While electricity prices are soaring, the Prime Minister has promised 1.5 billion euros to communities, to initiate work leading to energy savings. In Centre-Val de Loire, the amount is considered largely insufficient.
The bills are swelling, and do not seem to have finished swelling. The inflation of wholesale electricity prices for 2023 worries not only households, but also communities. Because at 1 000 euros per MWh, any gymnasium or college becomes a money pit when it comes to turning on the radiators.
So far, a large part of the communities has managed to withstand the shock, in particular thanks to “forecast“. In Loches, in Indre-et-Loire, the mayor boasts “a certain control thanks to the savings made each year, thanks to a policy that we have been pursuing for a long time“. According to Marc Angenault (LR), the city was able to compensate for inflation thanks to “the modification of the street lamps, the change of the boilers, the extinction of the lights on 40% of the streets“.
Similar to Issoudun, in Indre, where “we did not wait for the crisis to take energy saving measures“, assures the city councilor André Laignel (PS). Brightness of the street lamps lowered, replacement of the bulbs by LEDs… Here too, the savings made upstream are used, today, to compensate for the rise in prices.
Compensate at least in part. Because André Laignel says he is quite unable to estimate the impact of the use of LEDs on his municipality. And in general, he considers it impossible to keep the budget in balance. “On some of the equipment such as swimming pools and gymnasiums, we have a wood heating network, so it has increased by 30%explains the mayor. But on the rest of the equipment, we were able to take 100% of increases, as in schools, at the cultural center, at the seniors’ home.”
As the central municipality of a larger urban centre, it also claims to be more strongly affected by the impact of inflation than its neighbours. “We have a very well-equipped city, we carry and heat the equipment of an entire territory“, notes André Laignel.
Like the mayor of Bourges Yann Galut, who warned in July about the “financial wall“what his city was going to encounter because of the rise in energy prices, André Laignel has been seeking government assistance for several months. Wearing his hat as vice-president of the association of mayors of France (AMF), he must notably meet three ministers this week, to plead the cause of the communities:
We are heard, but I am not sure that we are listened to. This was the case for the previous five-year term, and we seem to be heading towards that also for the new one.
André Laignel, mayor of Issoudun and vice-president of the AMF
However, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has promised the creation of a green fund for communities, to help them initiate their energy transition and, ultimately, lower their expenses. A fund at 1.5 billion euros. “It will be enough if they reserve 1 billion for the Centre-Val de Loire“, quips the socialist president of the region François Bonneau.
He himself had to get the regional assembly to vote for an extension of 2 million euros at the beginning of the summer to compensate for energy prices. And this while the region has engaged a “energy performance contract for our high schools, which saves 35% of the energy needed in each renovated establishment“. For the president of the Centre-Val de Loire, it is necessary “commit more strongly to reducing our consumption and our production of greenhouse gases“. Which, according to him, requires, on the scale of all French communities, much more than 1.5 billion euros. “We want to do it on mobility, on energy performance, by helping families to insulate their homeshe lists. It has a cost.“
For the mayors too, the government’s promises are insufficient. “It’s already positive, but it’s far too little, it would take 10 billion“, thunders André Laignel. The mayor of Loches, Marc Angenault, believes that the needs of the municipalities are “too huge“to be covered by this future green fund.”To the community of municipalities, many town halls ask us to help them with insulation“, he says. For him, it is these small towns lacking in resources that will have to be helped”first and on a case-by-case basis“.
Especially since, already in difficulty by the increases in the first half of 2022, the town halls will probably be shaken again by the inflation which continues, at least until the beginning of 2023 according to the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire. “We are in uncertainty, we are unable to know how much will be needed“, dreads André Laignel in Issoudun. After the first extension of the summer, François Bonneau also anticipates having to “make the same vote in November“, to survive 2023.
Already, the tips are shared. In Loches, Marc Angenault promises to “follow government recommendations, reducing the temperature in our premises to 19 degrees“, even at 16 degrees in sports facilities. It also plans to turn off additional street lamps in the city center. Everyone is reassured: schools will have heating. “But what we put in to heat the schools, we can’t put it elsewhere“, warns André Laignel. The vice-president of the AMF now hopes that the voice of the communities will carry enough weight for the State to put its hand in its pocket, and help them get through the winter.