Paris, France — (METERING.COM) — March 3, 2009 – Residential customer switching in France’s energy markets has continued to increase, up by 34 percent in both the electricity and gas markets in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the third quarter.

In its latest Electricity and Gas Market Observatory, the French regulator, Commission de Régulation de l’Énergie (CRE), has reported that at December 31, 2008 a total of 692,000 electricity customers and 416,000 gas customers had switched supplier since the market was opened in July 2007.

This compares with 515,000 electricity customers and 310,000 gas customers who had switched supplier at September 30, 2008. There are a total of 29.7 million electricity customers and 10.8 million gas customers.

Switching by non-residential customers also continued to increase during the fourth quarter of 2008. At December 31, just over four years after market opening for these customers, 354,000 electricity customers and 96,000 gas customers had chosen an alternative supplier. This compares with 348,000 non-residential electricity customers and 90,000 non-residential gas customers that had switched suppliers at September 30, 2008.

In total 7 percent of non-residential electricity customers (accounting for 12 percent of total consumption) and 14 percent of non-residential gas customers (accounting for 18 percent of total consumption) have now chosen an alternative supplier.

During Q4 of 2008, alternative suppliers were responsible for 28 percent of all gas connections (both residential and non residential) and 6 percent of all electricity connections.

About 160 local suppliers, including the incumbent suppliers, were active in France at December 31, 2008. These suppliers operate locally or regionally and offer contracts to one or more segments of customers.