La construction politique du prix de l'énergie

La construction politique du prix de l'énergie

Sociologie d'une réforme libérale
Thomas Reverdy
The Political Construction of Energy Prices
Sociology of a liberal reform

The liberalisation of the gas and electricity sectors, which put an end to the State-run pricing system based on production costs, translated into the implementation of spot markets where reference prices are established for transactions with industrial clients.

But these new markets having proven to be particularly volatile, electricity-consuming industrial clients were the first to challenge their prices. French parliamentarians intervened several times to rethink the organisation of the electricity market and to renegotiate European demands. As for industrial clients and gas providers, they campaigned together to slow down the creation of a wholesale market and to preserve long-term contracts with producer countries.

These controversies affected the cognitive and normative bases of the liberal reform and weakened regulatory authorities, ultimately forcing politics to come into play. Political intervention prioritised maintaining industrial activity, to the detriment of the transition towards new sources of energy.

Drawing from several surveys conducted with both providers and clients between 2004 and 2010, this work describes the significant institutional, organisational and technical infrastructure necessary to transform gas and electricity into commodities, and reveals the fundamental role of political decision-making, including with regard to liberal reforms and the creation of a new market.