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The example I mentioned earlier shows that the open market is starting to function. And that’s good. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard is planning on complete market liberalization as of 2018. From that point onward, private individuals and small businesses with consumption levels under 100 MWh will be free to choose their electric company. While the chance of a popular referendum cannot be excluded, we anticipate that complete market liberalization – as Bern has now announced through its draft bill – will become a reality. The industry will need an adequate amount of time to ensure that these changes are implemented efficiently. Preparations are currently underway.
Which direction is development at power companies taking in Switzerland?
The environment is changing constantly, not just at the global level but in Switzerland, too, and this calls for the undivided attention of our members. We are facing numerous complex challenges, all at the same time: strategic realignments, preparations for full market liberalization, implementation of the first set of measures for the Energy Strategy 2050, progress in ICT convergence, the question of how to deal with the general economic situation, internal cost-cutting programs as well as increased efficiency on the grids. As you see, the industry is undergoing major restructuring and radical changes. These are opening up new opportunities which we also intend to seize.
What will Switzerland’s electricity market look like in the next 20 years?
Right now the situation surrounding the electric power industry is extremely exciting and dynamic. We’re observing a few trends that indicate how the electricity market will develop between now and 2035: ICT will have a bigger impact on energy, the power grids will converge even more, power companies’ business models and understanding of what role they play will undergo a huge transformation. The portion of power stemming from renewable sources of energy, which is currently at 60 percent in Switzerland, will continue to rise and as it does, so will the prevalence of decentralized production. Electricity imports are also extremely likely to grow at the same time. The greatest uncertainty lies in the political/regulatory environment – both at the European and national level. That’s where we would advocate reversing the trend: less microregulation and more space for market solutions so that price signals can take effect and create investment incentives.
Michael Frank has served as the Director of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies since 2011. He is responsible for representing and coordinating the interests of the various stakeholder groups and members as well as heading up the executive board. Michael Frank has extensive experience in the areas of market liberalization, grid infrastructures, regulation in the electricity industry, telecommunications and public affairs. He launched his career at the Federal Office of Communications and then went on to Swisscom and Axpo where he had a variety of different management positions and duties. Michael Frank was born in Biel, Switzerland, in 1963. He holds a law degree from the University of Bern and passed the State Examination for Advocates. He is also a board member of the Swiss Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW).
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