France reviewing green energy subsidies as it seeks to curb cost of shifting to renewable energy; country preparing new law to shift to green energy, save money, with new law expected to be approved by end of 2014

PARIS , December 13, 2013 () – France began reviewing subsidies for green energy developments as the country seeks to curb the cost of its plans to shift generation from nuclear to renewables.

“Changes in production costs for renewable energies and means to store them make a review necessary,” said Environment Minister Philippe Martin. “The government won’t go back on signed contracts or on action that has already been agreed.”

France is preparing a law to move generation to green power and save energy. Development of wind and solar installations has slowed this year in part because of a lack of clarity about what will happen to higher-than-market rates paid for their output.

The government remains committed to getting 23 percent of energy used in 2020 from renewables, Martin said yesterday in a statement. Changes following the review may be included in the planned law, expected to be approved by the end of next year. Martin was outlining consultations due to last through February.

Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables, a green energy lobby, says slower development of wind and solar installations in the past few years is “very worrying.” It estimates France will fall short of its targets, receiving only 17 percent of the energy it uses from renewables by the end of the decade.

European power companies have complained in recent months over the level of subsidies to renewables. GDF Suez SA Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet is among utility bosses who have said gas-fired plants had to close because of a combination of rising coal imports and increased generation from renewables.

--Editors: Tony Barrett, John Viljoen

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