Swiss free market plans welcomed

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Government plans to liberalise the Swiss energy market through an electricity market law, Elektrizitatsmarkt-Gesetz (EMG), in mid 2001 are welcomed by Swiss Eole, the Swiss wind energy association. The law would have a positive effect on the renewables sector through the linking of the EMG to a renewables support levy," says the associaton's Robert Horbaty. Swiss citizens will be asked to vote on this measure on September 24. The levy of SFR 0.3/kWh will be charged on all electricity from non-renewable sources and raise about SFR 200 million a year for investing in renewable and energy saving projects and to support old Swiss hydro. "This would mean a tenfold increase in renewables funds and we are very optimistic about the future," says Horbaty. Under the EMG, 110 large customers with a consumption of 20 GWh a year and 10% of distributors, together accounting for some 21% of the national electricity market, would be free for a year to choose their electricity supplier. A further 140 large customers and 20% of distributors will join them the following year, and the market would be fully liberalised step by step to the middle of 2007. The law also provides for setting up a company to run the national grid network, and for the certification of renewables generated energy. The final go-ahead for the introduction of the law is expected in the autumn, following a vote by the Staenderrat, the upper house and a referendum in late summer.

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