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French PM: more confident about France's energy supplies for the coming weeks

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Electric power transmission pylon miniatures and EDF (Electricite de France) logo

PARIS (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that she was more confident over the situation of French energy supplies for the next few weeks, citing lower consumption and an increase in nuclear output capacity.

Borne also told Franceinfo radio that while inflation was expected to retreat after peaking in early 2023, the government would continue with plans to shield targeted consumers and businesses from rising power prices until the end of the year.

Borne confirmed plans to help French bakers cope with rising energy bills, allowing them to spread the payment of their taxes over time and possibly "the payment of their energy bills for the first months of the year".

"I am more confident over the coming weeks," Borne told Franceinfo radio, when asked about energy supplies, adding that she had discussed the situation with energy company EDF.

Last week, the head of the country's CRE energy watchdog, Emmanuelle Wargon said there was no risk to power supplies until at least mid-January as French households and businesses had heeded calls to cut their energy consumption.

The government has set a target of cutting France's energy consumption by 10% by 2024 from 2019 levels, as part of a wide ranging plan that includes turning off lights and lowering thermostats to avoid power and gas cuts over the winter amid the war in Ukraine.

French grid operator RTE said last week electricity consumption dropped by 8.7% over the past four weeks compared to an average of the same period in 2014-2019.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and David Evans)