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Swiss electricity savings drive slow out of the blocks

Electricity consumption in Switzerland remained at normal levels last month despite a government appeal for households and industry to make savings.

On August 31, ministers urged the population to voluntarily reduce consumption ahead of anticipated shortages this winter. Recommended measures included turning heating down and switching off lights.

Both the Tages Anzeiger and Neue Zürcher Zeitung showed figures on Saturday that suggests this plea has so far fallen on deaf ears. Electricity consumption did not drop in September and was at around the same levels as the same month last year.

Both newspapers cautioned that the data is incomplete as some large energy consumers have yet to report their figures. But the early indications do not look promising for the “Energy is scarce, let’s not waste it” scheme, despite a poll earlier this week that suggests half of households are willing to make sacrifices.

Swiss gas consumption has dropped by 20% in the last two months as cuts in Russian supplies drove up prices.

It might be too early to judge whether the desired electricity cuts can also be achieved this winter, say experts, who told the newspapers that households could take longer than a month to start reacting to government recommendations.

In addition, manufacturers could be ramping up production at the moment to make up for later electricity shortages.

Werner Luginbühl, president of the electricity watchdog Elcom, told the Tages Anzeiger that people are weary of mandatory measures following Covid-19 lockdowns.

But some politicians have criticised the government for being too cautious and are urging ministers to impose compulsory electricity reduction targets.

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About Swissinfo
SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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