Electricity is key to keep resorts ticking, from lighting up chalets to running ski lifts like clockwork. All this is costing more and more, however, jeopardising the reopening of some slopes.
France has brought in a range of energy-saving measures recently, from turning off the Eiffel Tower earlier to dropping the temperature of swimming pools.
Electricity bills for French ski resorts and lift operators could multiply by up to eight times next year, warns Anne Marty, deputy president of the Domaines Skiables de France (DSF) union, and deputy general manager of Altiservice, which runs a number of resorts in the Pyrenees.
Those whose contracts expire in January face particularly sharp rises, she says. At Altiservice’s resorts of Saint-Lary and Font-Romeu, bills could soar to €15 million from €2 million in the worst-case scenario, sending the tourist hotspots into the red.
Sébastien Giraud, who manages Villard-de-Lans station in the Vercors Massif, also had some stark figures to share. “We are unable to sign a new contract with EDF given the proposals made to us,” he told France 3 radio station.
“The electricity bill would represent between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of our turnover, against 5 per cent currently,” he said, adding “We will not be able to pay it. As things stand, we won’t be able to open.”
Current electricity prices are “a huge obstacle”, agreed Fabrice Boutet, general manager of the SATA group which manages lifts at several ski resorts. The group’s energy bills are set to rise from roughly €2 to €20 million, he told AFP.