Collectivité signs two agreement with State to establish an Energy Code for St. Martin | THE DAILY HERALD

Signing the conventions were (from left) Christophe Avognon from EDF Guadeloupe, President Daniel Gibbs, Secretary-General of the Préfecture Mickaël Dore and ADEME Director General Jéréôme Roch (right). Territorial Councillor Pascale Laborde (second left) was also present as responsible for energy and the environment.  (Robert Luckock photo)


MARIGOT–President Daniel Gibbs recently signed two conventions with the State and partners Electricité de France (EDF) and the Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) to establish an energy code for St. Martin which has fallen under the national code of energy for the past nine years.

  Although the Collectivité has been competent in the field of energy since 2012, this competence had remained only theoretical.

  The first signature was for a framework convention on energy between Collectivité and State and the second a convention setting up an energy demand control committee.

  “It was necessary to clarify the local regulatory context in terms of energy, and formalise a code of energy of St. Martin in all its dimensions,” Gibbs explained.

  “With this in mind, the Collectivité with the support of ADEME, which will finance the recruitment of two project managers, is going to undertake the elaboration of a multiannual energy programme by the end of next year. This partnership between State and Collectivité will help to maintain equalisation balance so that the price of electricity remains aligned with its cost in France.”

  He explained the Energy Code gives St. Martin the status of a non-interconnected zone (NIZ) to the continental metropolitan network, like Corsica, the French overseas departments, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna. However, this is not the case for French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

  As in the other NIZs, the cost of producing electricity in St. Martin is much higher than in mainland France, four times higher overall.

  To ensure uniform electricity sales tariffs throughout the country, particularly in the NIZs, the tariff equalisation mechanism is used to cover the additional production cost, which is linked in particular to the absence of nuclear power plants in these territories.

  The equalisation is funded by the contribution to public electricity service (CPES), which is deducted from the bill of all French customers.

  “Our electricity is four times more expensive than in France, but since 1975 we have benefited from the metropolitan rates: the difference is covered by national solidarity,” Gibbs pointed out. “This is not the case in Polynesia and New Caledonia, which have full competence in the field of energy … and whose consumers pay bills that are twice as high as in the rest of France.

  “I would also like to add that our neighbours in St. Maarten do not benefit from such an equalisation mechanism from the Netherlands either. Now, some people in Paris wanted to call this equalisation into question, on the pretext that we have the competence for energy. It was therefore necessary to negotiate an agreement to legally secure the equalisation mechanisms in St. Martin.”

  Gibbs said the negotiations have been going on since 2018, interrupted by the health crisis, and resulted in the text that was signed.

  “Frankly, if tariff equalisation had been called into question, I would have asked the State to take back the energy competence, as the Territory of Wallis and Futuna did in 2016. Consumers and businesses in St. Martin would not have to bear a fourfold increase in the price of electricity. National solidarity must continue to prevail.”

  Article 4 of the agreement specifies the State undertakes to perpetuate, under the same conditions as those applicable to the other NIZs, the mechanisms of tariff equalisation, which represent each year about 50 million euros. St. Martin will be able to benefit from new national funding for development of renewable energies, to set up energy demand management and storage systems.

  The Collectivité, Direction de l’Environment et l’Amenagement du Logement (DEAL), ADEME and EDF will work in partnership to elaborate the framework of compensation, by the CPSE, to control energy demands in St. Martin.

  “This is important for our credibility, important for the consumer in St. Martin and important for the environment, the climate, and the planet,” Gibbs said. “At the same time, we will continue to benefit from funding schemes for rural electrification, the Facé, which has already supported us well after Hurricane Irma, with allocations of several million euros in 2017-2018.”

Source: The Daily Herald