Renewable energies: the Senate largely adopts the amended text

Posted Nov 4, 2022, 12:50 PMUpdated Nov. 7, 2022, 11:52 a.m.

The Senate adopted in first reading in the night from Friday to Saturday the bill to accelerate renewable energies (ENR) , the first stage of a high-risk journey for this text which must then arrive at the National Assembly on December 5. After the modifications, sometimes “structuring”, according to the terms of the government, of this bill in committee, the text underwent important new developments during the session. Overview :

The veto right of mayors abolished

It was one of the objectives of the government : to be able to delete, during the meeting, the mechanism resulting from an amendment by the rapporteur (LR) Didier Mandelli which aimed to give municipalities a form of right of veto to be able to oppose any renewable energy project, including for mayors of neighboring municipalities “in visibility” of the implementation project.

This right of veto constituted, in particular on the left, but not only, a “red line” and would have resulted, pointed out the government, not by an acceleration but by a brake, an additional blockage. Several deletion amendments had been tabled to lift this lock.

The compromise around a complex device

Instead, the Senate voted Thursday by a show of hands for a fairly complex alternative device, which did not completely reassure, especially on the LR benches. “We have here a good general system which still needs to be refined”, however advanced the president of the Economic Affairs Committee, Sophie Primas (LR).

This mechanism combines the proposal voted in committee for “bottom-up” planning, therefore starting from the territories, with a government amendment which nevertheless allows mayors to have “the last word” for the application phase, according to the explanations given by Senator Sophie Primas and Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher . “Each mayor defines zoning in which he can or wishes to receive renewable energies”, detailed Sophie Primas.

A sub-amendment by the rapporteur for opinion Patrick Chauvet (Centrist Union) “specifies that the municipality must give its agreement”, or “conforming opinion”. “We will take the time to work on the text” after the shuttle, said Agnès Pannier-Runacher to “ensure that it is not a gas plant that is too complex for the elected representatives of the territories. “An amendment by Green Senator Ronan Dantec, which provides for the possibility of correcting at the regional level “possible shortcomings” in terms of objectives, was also adopted on Thursday.

Offshore wind power: the reference to the distance of 40 km from the coast deleted

It was the other battle of the government in session on the text and its article 12 , on offshore wind power, deeply modified in committee. Indeed, the rapporteur LR Didier Mandelli had introduced an amendment which was to favor settlement areas located at a minimum distance of 40 km from the shore. The government and several groups have proposed deletion amendments.

“It’s going to be a hellish nest of litigation at a time when we want to speed up”, pleaded Agnès Pannier-Runacher in particular, when the senator (RDSE) Jean-Pierre Corbisez, elected from Pas-de-Calais, quipped on a provision which, at home, would amount to setting up offshore wind power… in Canterbury.

Denise Saint-Pé, senator (centrist Union) of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, also pleaded in favor of the abolition of this distance of 40 km from the coast. “The technology is not mature today for floating wind power. We must realize that we must develop offshore wind power, especially by having listened catastrophic information from EDF who tells us that we still have to postpone the opening of certain reactors currently under maintenance”.

After several suspensions of the session, the reference to this distance of 40 kilometers was ultimately deleted, against the opinion of the rapporteur. “Everyone was burying the text, but this work proves that it is possible to dialogue and move forward,” hopes a government source.

collective victory

The text, in addition to the removal of these two blocking points, has also been enriched to provide for better sharing of the value of projects, and it includes more provisions on photovoltaics, biogas or even hydrogen. It was widely voted on the night of Saturday to Sunday, by 320 votes for out of 343 voters, 5 votes against and 18 abstentions. It will be debated in the National Assembly from December 5.

“It’s a very good vote of adhesion on the text, no group has positioned itself against, welcomed after the vote the entourage of the Minister for Energy Transition. It is a collective victory with the senators, a political victory in the sense that we are sending a message on climate transition, energy sovereignty”. A broad Senate vote which, the government hopes, will move the lines for its examination in the National Assembly.

In any case, this vote is timely for him at a time when Emmanuel Macron, with Cop 27 beginning, wants to communicate widely in the coming days on Climate Transition and show that he is making progress on these subjects.

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Renewable energies: the Senate largely adopts the amended text

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