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The key dates of CNR’s history

An overview of 85 years of development marked by expertise and innovation in the service of the general interest.

Léon Perrier

Édouard Herriot


The Compagnie Nationale du Rhône was founded.

Its inception was an extension of the Rhone law, voted in 1921 and promulgated in 1931. This law gave a framework to the river’s development.


The French government entrusted CNR with the Rhone concession for a term of 75 years.

This covered the development and exploitation of the river to fulfil three missions for the community: hydroelectricity production, navigation and irrigation.


Works started

Works started on the construction of Port de Lyon Edouard Herriot.


The construction was launched

The construction of the dam-hydropower plant of Génissiat was launched and Port de Lyon Edouard Herriot, CNR’s first major project, was inaugurated.


The public electricity was nationalised

The public electricity company was nationalised by the government and formed the basis for EDF. The government nonetheless continued with CNR, which focused on its role as river developer.


First dam at Génissiat

The dam-hydropower plant of Génissiat was commissioned. At the time it was the largest and most modern dam in Europe, known as the “French Niagara”.

1948 to 2000

A convention was drawn up between EDF and CNR

  • EDF operated the hydropower plants, sold the production and kept the receipts;
  • CNR built the structures on the Rhone: 19 hydropower plants and dams built between 1948 and 1986;
  • CNR’s missions were remunerated in the framework of a flat-rate fee negotiated with EDF.


The electricity market was deregulated.


CNR, independant producer

CNR returned to being an independent energy producer in its own right.


Competences transfert

The competences of EDF’s personnel were transferred to CNR on the basis of a specific labour and industrial agreement. Four years later, on 1 January 2006, more than 300 employees joined CNR.


A new shareholder

A new shareholder, Electrabel, a subsidiary of the Suez Group, entered CNR’s capital. CNR’s new articles of association and specifications were set out in a decree.


Creation of Cn'Air

CNR founded its subsidiary, Cn’Air, to develop, invest, build and operate new renewable electricity production resources: wind, hydro- and solar power installations in France and the rest of Europe.


The Missions in the General Interest were created.

Absent in the original specifications, they were proposed by CNR voluntarily, to redistribute to the territories part of the wealth generated on the Rhone. They were and are still carried out according to five-year plans.


Innovation, missions in the general interest and the development of assets.

CNR diversified in wind and solar power, worked to develop new renewable energies (hydrogen, hydrokinetic turbines) and electric mobility, while offering its knowhow in managing intermittent energies and engineering services to third parties. Over this period, it carried out 3 five-year plans of Missions in the General Interest.

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