May 4, 2018 / 6:49 PM / 9 months ago

Court adviser says France should end regulated power tariffs

FILE PHOTO: Workers climb the EDF tower, France's state-owned electricity company building, to check the structure in La Defense, near Paris, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS (Reuters) - A senior counsel of France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has recommended that France end regulated electricity prices, state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA) said in a statement on Friday.

The utility said it had noted the recommendation, which argued the regulated tariffs, which some 30 million clients are still subscribed to, did not comply with European competition regulations.

EDF said it would make no further comment. The court’s final decision is expected by the end of May.

An end to regulated prices could intensify competition in France’s retail electricity market, where EDF faces growing competition from alternative suppliers.

French oil and gas major Total (TOTF.PA) in April said it would buy a majority stake in electricity retailer Direct Energie DIREN.PA in a 1.4 billion-euro (1.24 billion pounds) deal.

Italy’s energy group Eni (ENI.MI) and French consumer retailer Casino (CASP.PA) have also entered the power market.

Last year, the court repealed a similar law on regulated gas prices after a lobby group of alternative retail energy suppliers took the issue to the court, arguing the regulated gas scheme gave former monopoly Engie (ENGIE.PA) an unfair advantage.

The ANODE lobby group, and Engie, had filed a complaint over regulated power prices with the court.

A decade after France liberalised it energy sector, former monopoly EDF still holds around an 85 percent share of the retail power market, with most of its customers on regulated tariffs.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Richard Lough, editing by Larry King

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