French energy heavyweight EdF is reportedly considering allowing its business customers to return to cheaper regulated tariffs as a means of advancing the politically-charged Gaz de France-Suez merger.

As part of the glacial pace deregulation of the French electricity market, some business and industrial customers have opted to switch to unregulated tariffs offered by EdF, but are now facing steep price rises as wholesale costs have grown in recent times.

Dow Jones Newswires reports comments from the head of EdF, Pierre Gadonneix, to a French parliamentary committee, where he said that the company would investigate how customers could switch back to the cheaper rates.

French politicians see a reduction in electricity bills as a key element in paving the way for the GDF-Suez merger, which will require the privatization of GDF. Gaining a compromise that bolsters the productivity of French businesses could be the fillip needed to get the contentious GDF agreement past a skeptical National Assembly.

However it could be interpreted by Brussels as a retrograde step as it seeks to drive implementation of the second energy directive to open the continent’s gas and power markets.