How to Open an Electricity Account in France

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No matter where in France, whether you're moving to Paris to live, or if you have a holiday home in the south of France, you will need to activate an account with an energy supplier in order to have electricity service. Luckily, starting electricity service in France is fairly straightforward - we break it down into easy steps!

How the Electricity Market Works in France

electricity actors in France

Electricity in France is deregulated, meaning that you have a choice of supplier and the company that supplies your electricity is not the same as the company that responds to power outages. The grid operator throughout most of France is Enedis (formerly ERDF - Électricité Réseau Distribution France). You will need to contact Enedis if you are moving into a new home and need to have a meter installed.

electricity actors in France

While ERDF (now Enedis) is responsible for delivering electricity, you must open an account with an electricity supplier to start electric service

In most cases, however, your main point of contact will not be with Enedis but rather with your electricity supplier. The historic (and largest) electricity supplier is EDF (Électricité de France). However, other suppliers also exist in France (such as Total Direct Energie, Planete Oui, Eni, and others), and generally offer more attractive rates for energy supply.

You do not have to activate an account with EDF before switching to another supplier. Regardless of which supplier you choose, the process for activating an account is the same.

To avoid any interruptions to your power supply, it is ideal to start the account activation process for your electricity about two weeks before your moving-in date. However, given some of the other bureaucratic hurdles you have to overcome when you move to France, this may not always be possible.

In this case, you may need to pay an additional fee for quick service activation (see below). 

What You Need to Activate an Electricity Account

It will save some time if you have some information prepared before calling a supplier to activate an account for your electricity. In an ideal world, you would have the following information available:

  • Your contact information: name, e-mail address, phone number
  • The address of your new accommodation. Don't forget the floor and apartment number if it is a flat (e.g. third floor, the door on the left)
  • The name of the previous occupant
  • Your banking information (IBAN and BIC, if you choose automatic payment)

The energy supplier will use this information to identify your meter. They will also likely ask you questions about your home and consumption habits (e.g. the size - in meters squared - of your home, how many people live there, whether heating/cooking appliances are fueled by electricity or gas, etc). This allows them to determine the appropriate amount of power capacity for your home.

Did You Know?In France, you have a choice of how much power capacity you want for your property, from 3KVA to 36KVA. This is referred to as the "puissance de compteur". Most homes in France use 6 kVA or 9 kVA.

Choosing an Electricity Supplier

What Goes Into the Price of Electricity Supply in France?

There are two types of charges to be aware of when comparing electricity supply offers:

  1. The price per kWh ("prix par kWh")
  2. The subscription charge ("prix de l'abonnement").

The subscription charge is fixed (i.e. it does not change throughout the year), and the amount depends on the puissance de compteur (with a greater puissance meaning a higher monthly charge).

Finding an Energy Supplier

As previously mentioned, EDF is the largest energy supplier in France and is the only company that can offer regulated rates ("tarifs réglementés"). However, other suppliers exist in France and can offer more competitive rates.

Example of French electricity offers in 2020. Prices with taxes, for a 6kWh meter power
Energy Provider Offer kWh Price Annual Subscription Charge More Information
logo direct energie
Offre Electricité Online €0.141/kWh €119.76

09 87 67 37 93

Call me back

logo planete oui

Green electricity
("Offre Eco")

€0.1525/kWh €99.53

09 87 67 37 93

Call me back

logo edf

Regulated tariff (RT)
("Tarifs réglementés")

€0.1525/kWh €119.76

09 69 32 15 15

EDF English-speaking customer service

Once you have chosen an electricity supplier, you can call them to activate your electricity account. During the call with the provider or with Selectra, the operator will:

  1. Help you find the appropriate energy plan
  2. Register your preferred method of payment
  3. Estimate your yearly consumption
  4. Ask for your meter reading/meter information

Next Steps

Enedis logo

Enedis is the distribution grid operator of 95% of French territory

Once you have subscribed to an electricity contract with an energy provider, the provider will contact the distribution grid operator (for 95% of French consumers, this will be Enedis) and inform them that the ownership status of the electricity account has changed.

How much does account activation cost?

Enedis charges a fee for opening a new account, even if a technician isn't needed to reactivate the electricity line. These fees will be included in your first electricity bill.

Moving in: Prices of setting up electricity in a new French home, as of January 2020
  Time Delay Price (incl. VAT)
Standard account activation 5 working days €18.46
Express account activation 24h to 48h €56.40
Urgent account activation The same day €131.22

That's it! To close an account, simply call your supplier at least 48 hours before your moving out date to arrange for a final meter reading.

Glossary of Electricity-Related Terms
French Term English Definition What it's For
Puissance du compteur Meter power capacity Determines how much power capacity you have delivered to your home, which affects the rate you pay for electricity
Prix de l'abonnement Subscription charge Fixed charge to cover fixed costs associated with delivery and providing customer service 
Tarifs réglementés (may also be referred to as the "tarif bleu") Regulated rate Regulated rate option offered by EDF. Prices are set by French authorities
Updated on