Illegal EDF tax. Have you claimed a refund?

There is rumour that the European Court of Justice has declared one of France’s electricity taxes illegal, specifically the CSPE (contribution au service public de l’électricité), a substantial tax that appears in the breakdown of your bill. If this is true it may be that we are entitled to a refund dating back two years.

At this stage I cannot confirm this so I am asking you if you have any further information or have been successful or otherwise in making a claim?

An update (courtesy of The Connexion):

Court decision may open way to CSPE electricity tax refunds

Life in RipOff France...

Que Choisir has published its take today.

Il n’existe donc aucune possibilité de remboursement, la CSPE reste entièrement due par les consommateurs.

Oh well.

Agree. I'd rather go to South America where I expect madness than back to a wasteland of undemocratic, small world minded people. Empire is gone and the world needs to stand together. Two major wars should have taught us all that.

I tend to agree with Brian. Sure Farage is on a bit of a crest at the moment because the other parties through their deficiencies have allowed him to be. That doesn't make it a good idea to let him be a leader of a major democracy or represent the nation. He reflects a sort of Britain which still exists in the minds of a mainly older generation but if we think long and hard enough about it that is the sort of Britain we wanted to change back in the sixties. He seems also to be, very dangerously, a one man band, and heavens knows what other slightly barmy back up he has. In fact perhaps uniquely on this site I actually know three UKIP candidates personally and have done for decades. All of them have a rather eccentric approach probably conditioned by school room maps tinted pink when they were at school. one got so excited at a public meeting a fortnight ago he had to be carted off with a stroke. I wrote him a sympathetic letter but advised him to quit immediately. Many of them literally hate and despise other countries and cultures. Maybe i'm wrong but I thought we had moved on. As for the 2 million Brits in Europe will we be forced to flee Dunkirk style? Just imagine what that number of people looking for accommodation in the UK will do to the already turbulent UK housing market. Property values in France and Spain will tumble further. One problem I have is that if we wanted to go to the UK it's rather doubtful that the UKBA (or whatever it's called this week) will actually allow us in as my wife is non EU non British. Is it me and my paranoia but is the world actually going slightly crazy? (Ukraine, Nigeria, Syria, Eygpt, CAR, Thailand, Scotland, Farage, hacking of personal details, HMRC bank raids, police video caleras (shortly to be on prime time TV along with Traffic Cops, Parking Wardens I could go on) etc etc etc...... time for a cocktail I think.......PS It's a great shame Spitting Images isn't around to do Farage's indignant lip quivering PPS I see that owners of Mobile Homes sites in the UK are already advertising to expats as they realise that very few will be able to afford a real house made of bricks if they are forced back. I know of one couple who have just gone back and ended up in some awful wind blasted part of East Anglia just for that very reason. NO THANKS MATE!

Agree Doreen. All other info goes in the opposite direction to rebates. Perhaps it was a rebate for something else, but so far CRE have been shunting it directly in the government's direction.

Well Doreen, I can assure you 'I haven't' (as in me personally) got the wrong end of the stick and will be investigating further this evening.

I just wanted to give an update on this, not sure if anyone else has had any responses. I have't sent my letter yet but I have just had a phone call from a friend who says that their friends have had a refund. There letter was sent directly to the commission de regulation de l'energie in Paris as per the instructions given in the connection. Sounds more promising now. So I am off to post mine tomorrow.

Doreen, look at how many people in the UK are falling at Nigel Farage's feet despite one more UKIP controversy every other day. I think it is called gullibility. Those who truly believe what will never come true or be honoured at least.

We wrote and heard back, nothing like spending 10 minutes of free time and a few centimes postage without having high expectations. French people did try as well though and perhaps the powers that be suppressed it before it hit the wider public and became a real demand.

Whatever, we never expected any rebate but perhaps more to see the response. It wasn't interesting enough to say we had had one.

I think its all balls!

I found a couple of articles on this & none of them mention illegal taxes or refunds to householders, although a limit for high consumers is proposed. Your bill will only go down, it seems, if you run a steelworks or similar.

EDF are probably having a good laugh at all these silly letters Brits are sending in & La Poste are making a few euros, too!

This from the EU site Europa.

State aid: Commission approves aid for on-shore wind power in France; opens in-depth inquiry into tax reductions for large energy consumers

European Commission - IP/14/327 27/03/2014

Other available languages: FR DE



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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 27 March 2014

State aid: Commission approves aid for on-shore wind power in France; opens in-depth inquiry into tax reductions for large energy consumers

The European Commission has concluded that a French scheme providing support to the production of electricity from on-shore wind installations is compatible with EU state aid rules. Under the scheme, producers of renewable energy are compensated for additional production costs in line with EU guidelines, and do not receive overcompensation. In parallel, the Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether three types of reductions of renewable energy surcharges granted to large energy consumers in France (so-called CSPE) are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under examination. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

France supports on-shore wind installations by imposing tariffs above market price on distributors for buying the electricity produced in these installations (feed-in tariffs). The annual value of this support is estimated at €500 million. The feed-in tariffs allow producers of renewable electricity to cover the additional production costs they face compared to traditional electricity generation. The Commission's investigation has shown that the feed-in tariffs only compensate for these additional costs and allow for a reasonable rate of return in line with the 2008 Environmental Aid Guidelines (see MEMO/08/31).

To finance the support for on-shore wind, every electricity consumer in France has to pay a uniform levy per kWh consumed (the so-called "contribution au service public de l'électricité" – CSPE). However, the law provides for three exceptions:

  • No CSPE is due on own consumption of auto-produced electricity below 240 GWh per year.

  • No CSPE is due beyond €550 000 (indexed) per consumption site per year.

  • For industrial companies consuming at least 7 GWh per year, the CSPE is capped at 0.5% of their annual value added.

These three reductions appear to give large electricity consumers a selective advantage that could distort competition in the Single Market. The possibility of such reductions is not foreseen under the 2008 Guidelines on Environmental Aid which are currently applicable. The Commission therefore has doubts about their compatibility with EU state aid rules. In parallel, the Commission is in the process of revising its guidelines and is considering including provisions allowing reductions for energy intensive users under certain conditions in order to preserve competitiveness (see IP/13/1282). If adopted these new guidelines would apply to this case as well as to other ongoing cases.

The in-depth investigation will allow interested third parties to submit information to the Commission that can help better understand the effect of the surcharge on the risk of relocation of activities and the impact of reductions to the surcharge on competition in the Single Market.


A judgment of the EU Court of Justice of December 2013 (case C-262/12) confirmed that the French support for the production of electricity from on-shore wind installations involves state aid within the meaning of EU rules.

The Guidelines on Environmental Aid, which are currently applicable, entered into force in 2008 (see MEMO/08/31). The adoption of new guidelines on state aid in the fields of energy and environment for the period 2014-2020 is foreseen for 9 April 2014. Amongst other things, the new guidelines envisage that Member States could partially relieve energy intensive companies from financing renewable energy generation. The Commission carried out a public consultation on the draft guidelines (see IP/13/1282).

On 18 December 2013, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation into reductions granted to energy intensive companies on a surcharge for the financing of renewable energy in Germany (see IP/13/1283).

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.36511 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.

Nothing about illegal tax there...

EDF made this press release a while back.

This from EDF.

The EDF group > Press > Press releases > All press releases > 2013 > Agreement on the repayment of the CSPE deficit

Press Release

Agreement on the repayment of the CSPE deficit


EDF and the French State have reached an agreement whereby EDF will receive full compensation for having borne the cumulated financial deficits related to the Contribution to Electricity Public Services (CSPE) mechanism over the years.

The CSPE was designed as a tax levied on electricity end-customers’ bills. Its level is set by the State and its purpose is to enable French electricity incumbent players, like EDF, to recover the extra charges incurred in performing their mandatory public service assignments. As such, the CSPE contributes to the financing of the development of renewable power generation, of the social electricity tariffs and of the nationwide equalization of electricity tariffs. Since 2007, the level set for the CSPE collection has been insufficient to compensate for the increase in the charges. This resulted in the accumulation of a CSPE deficit, borne by EDF only, which weighs on the group indebtedness.

The agreement found between EDF and the French authorities will provide the reimbursement by the French State of the receivable made of the CSPE deficit as of 31 December 2012 of c. €4.3 billion(1) and of the cumulated implied financing costs of this deficit of c. €0.6 billion. This receivable of c. €4.9 billion will be staggered according to a gradual schedule and will be fully repaid by 31 December 2018. The outstanding receivable will bear interest at market rates.

Following the above-mentioned agreement, EDF will account for a financial income of c.€0.6 billion stemming from the recognition of repayment of the historic CSPE deficit financing costs as of 31 December 2012(2).

Discussions between EDF and the French State continue in order to relief the Group net financial debt, on which the CSPE deficit currently weighs.

1 The final receivable amount will be confirmed later in 2013 when the French energy regulator (CRE) will validate the actual CSPE deficit for 2012.
2 The detailed accounting impacts of the agreement will be published with EDF’s 2012 financial results on 14 February 2013The EDF Group, one of the leaders in the European energy market, is an integrated energy company active in all areas of the business: generation,

The latest on this from Connexion:


I have now had two telephone calls and a letter. It's the same letter everyone else seems to be getting, but mine is signed by the splendidly named Gregoire de Montgolfier - who is, no doubt, in charge of all hot air output.

I had the same letter today (also saying they tried to call me-I doubt it!)

it went into a bit more information about the law etc, but basically said tough.

Well well, Just received this courteous and well-written reply this morning.
I scanned it in and saved in pdf form, I hope you can access it.

Will look into this!

Doreen, they have the article in their May edition.

Class actions, in the sense given to them under US law, do not exist in France. Each and every person would have to file an action with the relevant court, and then ask the court to join these actions together. There was talk of a change in the law to allow class actions, but as far as I can tell, it fizzled out, or was put on the backburner.

What usually happens instead is that an association is created, with legal personality or standing, to act for the disgruntled members of that association, then the association files the claim as general representative. If people are still intent on pursuing this, they might want to contact UFC (Union Fédérale des Consommateurs) and see what it has to say about the whole sorry affair.

Whether in English or any other language, the decisions of the CJEU hardly make for exciting or understandable reading for most people ;-) - oh, unless you happen to be legal blogger just dying waiting for it to cough up something to blog about :-)

I agree that the whole thing is confusing, and if the French state does appeal, which it probably will like most states in a similar position, then we can expect not a lot to happen for a very long time, and even if its appeal is quashed, a reluctance to allow compensatory pay outs by legislatory hook or by crook in order to save state "sponsored" EDF in particular from having to pay back monies to its customers ! Let's remember that the whole renewable energy and freeing-up of the distribution market thing was the government's idea (not the current one, I'll grant you, but govenrments come and go, as they say), so when push comes to shove, I can imagine that the big distributors will be none too pleased with their former government masters if they have to start paying back end customers for a scheme that they didn't want to implement in the first place !