Negotiated by the French State with Europe until 2041, the extension of the concession of the Rhône River for the management of its dams and its territory is the subject of a public consultation ended on 30 June 2019.

The Rhône River Concession

Since 1934, the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) has held a concession for hydroelectric production, irrigation for food production and navigation until 2021.

This concession represents 14 locks on the 470 kilometres of the Rhône and the 27,000 hectares surrounding it, with 3,000 MegaWatts (MW) of electrical power and 650,000 cubic metres (m3) of water distributed for agriculture.

Its renewal covers an enlarged territory, with 30,000 hectares of adjoining space and 550 kilometres of river, with a revision of the 2003 master plan that focuses on investments, environmental preservation and land use planning along the river.

This concession is a unique case in France, which is the subject of a dedicated law, the Rhône Law of 1921, and is based on a redistributive model. Currently, the State receives 100 million euros in annual royalties and 30 million are invested in the territories concerned.

Dam of the Rhône River Concession

Extension, what changes?

There are three major points in the evolution and extension of the Rhône River concession:

Extended territorial perimeter

The extension project proposes to integrate into the perimeter of the Rhône concession several sections and structures of the public river domain, currently administered by other operators (Voies Navigables de France, Savoie Departmental Directorate of Territories).

  • Map of the evolution of the concession:
Map: Rhône river concession
Map legend: Rhône river concession

Updating of the master plan

An investment component of 160 million every 5 years in more diversified sectors such as small hydroelectric power plants, waterways, ports,agriculture, ecological diversity and ecosystem protection.

Objectives and programme

  • Construction of small hydroelectric power stations (in Saint-Pierre-de-Boeuf and Vallabrègues), studies on the potential for increasing production on existing facilities, diversification of electricity production methods and development of renewable energy sources.
  • Development of the uses of the waterway and ports, construction of new locks (Sault-Brenaz, Freyssine…), restoration of the Savières canal
  • Support for the evolution of agricultural practices in the Rhône valley
  • Recovering the ecological wealth of the Rhône
  • Partnership actions (technical and/or financial support), notably for economic, local, tourist or heritage development, always in territorial or functional link with the concession, the river, its uses and the general interest.

Additional studies and works

In order to continue the development of the Rhône for the production of electricity and the development of the waterways, taking into account climatic changes, a total additional amount of 500 million euros is planned between now and 2041.

The projects

  • The study and (depending on the State’s decision) the realisation of a new hydroelectric scheme upstream of the confluence of the Ain, in the Saint-Romain-de-Jalionas sector
  • The construction, development and improvement of hydroelectric infrastructure
  • Improving the reliability of navigation infrastructures
  • Construction and development of fish continuity structures.

Agenda of the new concession

The public consultation process will run until 30 June 2019 with seminars, consultations and thematic workshops according to a precise timetable, before approval by decree of the Council of State in 2020.

Agenda: Rhone river concession


List of municipalities concerned by the concession

Extract from the consultation