On 3 January 2013, Alpiq transferred ownership of its ultra-high-voltage network to Swissgrid, the national grid operator. This is an operational, legal and financial transaction in accordance with the Electricity Supply Act (StromVG). From now on therefore, Swissgrid is responsible for operating, maintaining and renewing the 380/220 kV network that until the transfer date belonged to Alpiq. The property transferred comprises 1,800 kilometres of overhead power lines, mainly in Western Switzerland, Ticino and North-West Switzerland. As announced last September, Alpiq will be granted Swissgrid shares under the transaction, together with a loan claim worth more than CHF 400 million repayable in instalments. An initial payment of around CHF 220 million will provisionally become due in the first half of 2013.
Essential and urgent extension of the network
As the new owner of the Swiss ultra-high-voltage grid, Swissgrid now has to continue the plans to extend it, in particular the projects developed hitherto by Alpiq under the overall control of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. These projects are part of the 2020 Strategic Grid defined by Switzerland and concern the following sections:
- Chamoson – Ulrichen: approximately 100 km, in the canton of Valais
- Châtelard – Rosel: approximately 22 km, the Nant de Drance link, in the canton of Valais
- Yverdon – Galmiz: approximately 50 km, in the cantons of Vaud and Fribourg
For Swissgrid and for Alpiq, which provides approximately one third of Switzerland’s electricity, the expansion of the transmission system is necessary and urgent. It is in fact essential in order to ensure Switzerland’s reliability of supply and is intended to enable the transmission of the electricity generated by the power stations, especially the hydroelectric power stations in the Valais.
Alpiq, through its company Alpiq EnerTrans SA, will continue to provide UHV network planning, construction and operating services. Through its contract-based work, Swissgrid and the managers of lower voltage networks will be able to benefit from its extensive specialist skills.