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France’s new environment minister says energy plan due end of October

Recently-appointed environment and energy minister Francois de Rugy stated on Wednesday that the national energy roadmap for the coming decade would be presented by the end of October

He said so in his first interview following his appointment on Tuesday. He stated in clear terms in an interview with radio network France Inter, that he would “not deviate from the path of ecological transformation.”

“We will do what has never been done before,” said de Rugy, referring to the multi-annual energy plans (PPE) but without providing any details.

“I will meet everyone and listen to the constraints of reality. But I will not deviate from the path of the ecological transformation,” de Rugy also tweeted following the interview.

De Rugy was a member of the Green Party before joining President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party last year. He has been acting as speaker of the National Assembly currently. When questioned about the incumbent power utility EDF’s lobbying an influence on energy policy, he noted that the utility was an 85% state- owned public enterprise with parliament responsible for policy. He also referred to renewables expansion and especially offshore wind as a key challenge for EDF.

Since 2007, De Rugy has been a lawmaker for the Nantes region on the French Atlantic coast. The region has developed into a key hub for French offshore wind, with EDF’s Saint-Nazaire project expected to be France’s first large offshore wind farm to enter operation by 2021.

The country’s wind energy lobby FEE Wednesday appealed to the minister to confirm state support for offshore wind projects—which is often described as the “Achilles’ heel” of the country’s renewable energy program.

De Rugy is renowned for being a pragmatist who backed Macron’s decision last year to delay the planned reduction of nuclear in the French power mix. Before joining Marcon’s LREM, he had campained for a full exit from nuclear by 2040 and 100% renewables by 2050.

De Rugy replaced Nicolas Hulot, a former environmental activist and the most popular minister in the Macron administration, who abruptly resigned last week in a live radio interview blaming lack of support from the government.

He has retained Hulot’s team of three junior ministers: energy minister Sebastion Lecornu, ecology transition and solidarity minister Brune Poirson and transport minister Elisabeth Borne.

-GBO Correspondent

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