Power suppliers connect ahead of liberalisation

The control centre at BKW's nuclear power plant in Muehleberg Keystone Archive

Switzerland's largest electricity producer, BKW of Bern, and 40 regional energy distributors launched a new name for their joint venture on Thursday in preparation for the forthcoming liberalisation of the Swiss electricity market.

This content was published on April 19, 2001 minutes

Under the company name of "Youtility", the partners want to sell electricity under the brand name "1to1 energy". The aim of the cooperation is to develop new products and to optimise the quality of service before the official opening of the electricity market.

"The aim is to give customers, both small and large, the possibility to benefit as rapidly as possible from real advantages, and new products and services," said Kurt Rohrbach, chief executive of BKW, the former Bernese Power Company.

"We give electricity a name - "1to1 energy" - we give it a face and we give it a quality label so that the customer can choose, for example, between different sources of power production and can be assured of a certain level of service," Rohrbach told swissinfo.

Martin Pfisterer, head of BKW's corporate communications, said that "1to1 energy" was a guarantee of direct contact. "The new brand name symbolises the desire of BKW and 40 regional energy distributors to offer clients tailor-made quality services by means of a partnership," he said.

One of the new products that will be introduced later this year is called "Water Star". It is eco-electricity produced by Switzerland's first hydro-electricity plant with an ecological label for its production methods.

Government plans to gradually open up the Swiss electricity market are to go to a nationwide vote, after trade unions and other groups in the French-speaking part challenged them earlier this year.

The law - to give industrial consumers and private households the freedom to choose their power suppliers - is in line with the government's policy of bringing Swiss legislation into line with that of the European Union.

As part of the new law, a national network is to be established to ensure that all suppliers have access to the grid.

Switzerland has more than 1,200 electricity utilities. More than 55 per cent of the country's electricity comes from hydro-electricity plants, with about 40 per cent generated by nuclear power stations.

swissinfo with agencies

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