Opening an electricity account in France

The opening of an account in France depends on the circumstances of your house purchase and whether you propose to use EDF, the state electricity supplier, or a private supplier.

The fist step is when you have completed the purchase of your French property, you should ask the notaire for a certificate of purchase called an attestation de vente (which will be also helpful for other matters such as opening a bank account).

If the former owner has already vacated the property and terminated their account with EDF, then you should visit the local office of EDF with your attestation and open an account, or alternatively complete the process online. You will need then to sign a supply contract with EDF, who should arrange for a meter reading to be carried out within 48 hours, following which you will be able to obtain a supply (or alternatively, along with the former owner, you can prepare a joint letter for signature stating the electricity meter reading, and send it to the EDF).

If it is a second home, then you will need to notify EDF of the address where bills should be sent, if it is not to be the address in France.

Please note that the voltage supply level in France is 220 - 240V.

Changing your electricity supplier

Since July 2007, it is possible to move from EDF to an alternative supplier. While the tariffs applied by EDF are regulated by the government, private operators are free to set their own tariffs.

The main alternative operators in France are Alterna, Direct Energie, Enercoop, Ineo (formerly GDF Suez), Planète OUI, and Poweo.

So, if you wish to change from EDF, the transfer of your account to the new supplier is handled entirely by that supplier.

These private suppliers do not generally have a local branch network, so you would normally need to make the application on-line.

Filing a complaint against your electricity supplier

If you wish to complain about the service you have received from EDF (or other electricity supplier), then you need to take the complaint up with them in the first instance.

The procedure is either ringing or writing to their Centre de Relation Clientèle (whose telephone number or address are given on your electricity bill).

If you fail to get any amicable solution, the next step is to write to:
Service National Consommateurs (SNC)
TSA 82120
92919 La Défence CEDEX

The SNC are required to respond to your complaint within two months.

If matters remain still unresolved, you should then file a complaint to:
Médiateur national de l’énergie
Libre réponse n° 59252
75443 PARIS Cedex 09

The Médiateur should give their decision/recommendation within two months. Their decision is advisory only, so the parties can choose to ignore it. Nevertheless, the electricity supplier are required to inform the Médiateur within two months of the action they have taken on their recommendation.

Most of the time, those above steps could lead to satisfactory amicable agreements. However, it is important to have a good knowledge of the French language as well as the French legal system. As such, without spending too much money on legal fees, it is worth contacting a bilingual French Lawyer to assist you approaching those third parties organisations and putting the amicable proceedings in place.