French daily newspaper Le Figaro this week reported signs that the liberalization of the French electricity market may at last be underway. The paper says that state owned utility, Electricit�e France (EdF), has now lost 75 of its major customers (defined as end users of 16 GWh or more).

The 75 customers constitute 105 out of the 1400 individual industrial sites supplied by EdF. Industrial customers represent 30 per cent of the entire French electricity market.

The lost customers have been lured away by the more flexible contracts on offer from EdF’s competitors, who only recently have had access to compete for commercial customers. The domestic consumer market remains almost entirely in the hands of EdF. Despite most other European countries having opened up their markets to competition.

Electrabel of Belgium has acquired a third of the former EdF customers with another third going to German utility RWE. The remainder are shared by Endesa subsidiary, Snet, and Enron.