Organization involved in the French electricity market

Following the opening up of the electricity market in France, all the roles have been redefined and new companies and organizations have been created to ensure consumer protection and fair competition among the various electricity suppliers.

Producers and suppliers

The production and supply (or marketing) of electricity are the two activities open to competition on the electricity market.

Electricity producers

They handle electricity production and its sale to electricity suppliers, in particular on the wholesale market. Although production is no longer a monopoly, electricity production continues to be a sector that is highly regulated. The aim is to reconcile security of supply with France’s environmental objectives.

France new electricity market organization (NOME - Nouvelle Organisation du Marché de l’Électricité) law of 7 December 2010, provides for regulated access to the incumbent nuclear electricity (ARENH - Accès Régulé à l’Électricité Nucléaire Historique) mechanism - that is to say, sharing EDF’s "nuclear rent" with alternative electricity suppliers. Given its former monopoly, EDF benefits from means of production whose construction has already been amortized. Alternative suppliers, such as Eni, can therefore benefit from access to a certain volume of electricity from the nuclear power plant at a tariff set by the government on the basis of the decision of France’s energy regulation commission (CRE - Comité de Régulation de l'Energie).

Electricity suppliers

The activity of the electricity suppliers falls under 3 headings:

-          Purchasing the quantity of electricity equivalent to the electricity consumption of its customers from the producer.

-          Paying for the use of the public electricity networks (TURPE - Tarif d’Utilisation des Réseaux Publics d’Électricité) to the electricity distribution network manager

-          Invoicing customers.


Network managers

The transmission of electricity to the consumer is still a public service and therefore this activity is not open to competition. The service is provided by the network operators who must ensure non-discriminatory access for the various suppliers.

DNM: Distribution Network Manager

In most of France, the electricity distribution system manager is Enedis (formerly ERDF). With the opening up of the electricity market to competition, the French electricity distributor and supplier, EDF, had to separate the management of the distribution network from its other activities. The distribution of electricity must be done in exactly the same way for all electricity suppliers. In the areas not served by Enedis, the activity is managed by local distribution companies (ELDs). These companies are usually former municipal boards covering a relatively small area. ELDs must carry out the tasks of an electricity distributor in their defined geographicarea.

Their missions

  • Maintaining and developing the distribution network by guaranteeing its safety and reliability.
  • Promoting access to electricity by connecting new facilities to distribution networks.
  • Reading the meters and transmitting consumption data to the suppliers.


RTE: Réseau de Transport d’Électricité

RTE is the subsidiary of EDF that manages the public high-voltage electricity transmission network. The company operates, maintains and develops very high voltage power lines (between 63,000 and 400,000 volts). These networks carry electricity from the production sites to certain industrial customers who consume large amounts of electricity and most importantly to the electricity distribution network, after transforming it to reduce the voltage. Low-to-medium-voltage lines are not RTE’s responsibility, but are operated by the distribution network managers. This sector of the electricity market is not open to competition and therefore RTE is a monopoly engaged by the state through a public service contract.

RTE is a member of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), which brings together the different systems in the member countries.

Its missions

  • Ensuring the balance between the production of electricity and consumption on French soil at all times. The electricity is not stored.
  • Ensuring the security of operations in order to avoid both local and generalized power cuts
  • Ensuring good electricity quality in terms of both voltage and continuity of service
  • Developing and securing the network by following the changes in electricity demand in France, while taking into account the environmental impacts.



The Energy Regulation Commission

Created in 2000 and resulting from laws relating to the modernization and development of the public electricity service, France’s energy regulation commission (CRE- Commission de Régulation de l’Energie) is an independent administrative authority. The CRE is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the energy market and for arbitrating disputes between users and the various operators.

Its missions

The CRE guarantees the right of access to public electricity networks, and in particular the independence of the system managers.

The CRE also advises on regulated sales tariffs, before these are validated by government decree.

Its advisory role is also important when setting the tariff for the use of the public electricity networks (TURPE - Tarif d’Utilisation des Réseaux Publics d’Électricité), which defines the conditions for the use of remuneration for electricity transmission companies (RTE) and distributors (Enedis and local Distribution or ELD)

The CRE is responsible for settling disputes between consumers and electricity suppliers, as well as disputes over access to and the use of public natural gas and electricity networks. The CRE’s dispute resolution and sanctions committee was set up in 2007 following the opening up of the market.

The national energy ombudsman

As an independent administrative authority set up in the framework of opening-up the energy market to competition, the national energy ombudsman may receive referrals from private individuals or professionals (consuming less than 30 MWh) in the event of a dispute with their energy supplier.

Its missions

  • Informing consumers about their rights in order to support them in procedures related to their energy supply.
  • Providing written explanations of their recommendations to resolve disputes between consumers and suppliers.


Before filing a complaint with the national energy ombudsman, a written complaint must have been previously sent to the energy supplier. It has two months in which to propose a solution. Beyond these two months, if no satisfactory answer has been given, the matter may be referred to the ombudsman.

A referral to the ombudsman must be made in writing accompanied by all the elements necessary for studying the case.


Last updated on 21/03/17