The total capacity of the hydro assets at the three dams – Saint-Maurice, Saint-Firmin and Trinite – is 13MW, but the loss is a blow to the dominant company.

edf declined to comment in detail and has not issued a formal statement regarding the loss of the licences. However, the utility also told IWP&DC that it does not intend to appeal the award of the concession to a new small company set up for the bid – Force Hydraulique de Severaisse.

The licences for the three hydro dams will not be given over to Force Hydraulique de Severaisse for about five years, EDF added. By then the winning bidder will have to have completed all relevant procedures with local authorities, including an impact assessment, public inquiry and discussions with local stakeholders.

Force Hydraulique de Severaisse was set up by a former employee of EDF, Franck Adisson, to pursue the licences for the three dams.

Saint-Firmin, the oldest plant, was built in 1909 and the others in the 1930s. EDF has held the licences for the plants since its creation in 1946, and since they were state-owned facilities no financial compensation is foreseen to EDF when its licences end.

In France, the licences, or ‘concessions’, for hydro dams are awarded by the government for capacities of more than 100MW. Local authorities issue licences for plants of 100MW or less.