October 17, 2018 / 12:27 PM / a month ago

Swiss government proposes broad electricity market deregulation

ZURICH, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The Swiss government proposed on Wednesday complete liberalisation of the electricity market as it moves to decentralise production and promote renewable energy.

Opening a period of public comment that runs through January, the cabinet said that while five-sixths of power purchases took place on open markets, more than 99 percent of retail and business consumers remain bound to regulated suppliers.

These consumers should in future be allowed to choose where to buy their electricity, the government said in a statement.

Doris Leuthard, the Swiss energy minister, said at a press conference in Bern announcing the plan that she did not expect to see a rush of consumers jettisoning their existing providers for a rival, once the market was opened.

Still, Leuthard said she was convinced it would spur innovations and focus producers on boosting the value of their offering.

Retail consumers should also be able to draw power exclusively from Swiss producers, of they so choose, of which part would have to be from renewable sources.

Other features of the proposal include capping state subsidies for power investment and creating power reserves to be tapped during emergencies.

Switzerland has 20 gigawatts of installed power capacity, which ensures demand is covered even after nuclear power plants go offline, reducing capacity to 16.5 gigawatts, it said. (Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by John Miller)

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