PARIS (Reuters) - Pioneer French green alternative electricity supplier Enercoop plans to use 2.7 million euros ($3 million) from a recent fund raising round to add on new services, despite increasing competition from major rivals.
Enercoop’s director general Emmanuel Soulias, said the funds would be used to create more cooperatives and diversify into energy efficiency advisory services.
Launched in 2005 in the wake of the liberalization of the French retail power market, Enercoop positioned itself in the niche market as a provider of 100 percent renewable green electricity from small producers.
The company is however facing stiff competition from major rivals such as French oil and gas giant Total, energy group Engie and state-controlled utility EDF, which have entered the retail power market and have introduced “green” offers to residential and industrial clients.
“With these various green offers, yes we are hurt because for people who don’t know the difference, green is green, be it from EDF or Total,” Soulias told Reuters on Tuesday.
Enercoop has one of the highest retail tariffs in the French market, according to energy market regulator CRE.
Soulias said the cheap green offers from competition was hurting its unique model but growing awareness was providing resilience and growth prospects.
“We are taking our time to build a client base. We have a unique model of direct contracts with green producers and we are the only supplier that has the statute of a cooperative,” he said.
The company is made up of 11 cooperatives with 40,000 members across France. Enercoop has 240 electricity producers with an installed capacity of 209 megawatts.
Soulias said the gap between its price and those of rivals is expected to narrow after French energy market regulator CRE recommended a 5.9 percent rise in regulated tariffs following the sharp rise of wholesale prices in 2018.
Enercoop’s 2018 revenue is expected jump by around 25 to 30 percent compared with 58 million euros ($65 million) in 2017, Soulias said. Its client base stood at 74,000 at the end of 2018, up 30 percent from 2017.
France’s CRE energy market regulator said separately on Tuesday that alternative power producers continue to grow their share of France’s retail electricity market in 2018.
CRE said in its report that 7.4 million clients had moved to market tariffs as of the end of 2018, most of them from state-controlled utility EDF to alternative power suppliers.
($1 = 0.8872 euros)
Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by David Evans