At 53, the current head of international operations at Schneider Electric will become the new pilot of the EDF vessel, weakened by its financial situation and its broken down electricity production.
The Élysée formalized its choice, on “proposal of the Prime Minister”, specifying that the Parliament will have to give its approval to this appointment.
The future CEO will replace Jean-Bernard Lévy, at the helm since 2014, soon to reach the age limit but whose early departure was announced this summer at the same time as the renationalisation of EDF at 100%.
Little known to the general public, Luc Rémont, however, presents a “very complete” public-private profile to lead the industrial giant soon to be renationalized, underlines a source familiar with the matter. Good connoisseur of the workings of the State to have passed in ministerial cabinets including Bercy, he also acquired a “legitimacy of business”.
Emmanuel Da Cruz, union coordinator FO Groupe Schneider, salutes a “very competent person, engineer, recognized at Schneider Electric, benevolent towards his teams”.
With his stint of more than eight years at Schneider, first as director of France and then internationally where he piloted “dozens of industrial sites and tens of thousands of employees”, according to the source familiar with the matter, he knows now well this French and global energy sector, which is currently in the midst of upheaval.
“It is not so much the man that we will judge, it is his project”, reacted for his part Amélie Henri, national secretary CFE-Unsa energies for EDF.
For now, Luc Rémont will be the only captain on board, the current statutes of the company providing for a single governance in the hands of a CEO. But Bercy remains in favor of the idea of a dissociation between the functions of president and director-general, a time mentioned by the Élysée. His fixed compensation will remain “within the framework of the law”, i.e. a maximum of 450,000 euros gross per year, according to another source familiar with the matter.
Luc Rémont will face a number of colossal challenges, both financial and industrial, as France faces its worst energy crisis in decades.
Folder at the top of the pile?: relaunch electricity production at half mast, due to problems with certain nuclear reactors, but also the drought which has weakened hydroelectric production.
Out of 56 reactors, about half are shut down due to corrosion problems or for maintenance, which should cause production to drop by 2022 to a historic low of 280 TWh. But the challenge will be to restart enough reactors to cope with consumption peaks, especially in the event of very cold winters.
Other more structural projects await the new strongman of EDF. In the medium and long term, the new boss will also have to manage the connection of the EPR Flamanville, which is ten years behind schedule, and huge investments to come to revive nuclear power, according to the roadmap set by Emmanuel Macron in February 2022.
The executive wants to provide France with six new second-generation EPRs, with an option for eight others while extending the life of an aging fleet beyond 50 years, to increase France’s energy security, while that we will increasingly have to do without fossil fuels. And the government wants to hurry up.
These challenges are all the more complicated to face as the group’s financial situation is weighed down by a colossal debt which could peak at 60 billion euros at the end of 2022. A situation due to the collapse of production, aggravated by the government’s decision to have EDF sell more electricity at knock-down prices to its competitors to protect household bills.
In this context, he will have a lot to do to reassure employees and unions. “We have big fears,” said Amélie Henri, at CFE-Énergie, who fears a “cut sale of the various activities of EDF” and the end of the “integrated model of the company”, after the renationalization.
His roadmap is eagerly awaited.