DETEC wants to establish the facts

Bern, 03.10.2003 - The exact course of events and the background to the electricity blackout of last Sunday have yet to be discovered. Before considering the implications -- for crisis management procedures in the electricity supply industry, the responsibilities of the supervisory authorities and collaboration with neighbouring countries -- the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) awaits an explanation of the causes of the grid failure and the reactions of the electricity supply industry. The results are expected within a month.

The Department has asked ETRANS, as the co-ordinating body for the Swiss transmission network, as well as all grid operators involved, to provide a detailed report on the reasons for the incident and the exact sequence of events by mid-October.

Furthermore the Department has ordered the Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current
Installations (ESTI) and the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) to conduct a separate inquiry paying particular attention to the switching procedures, load flows and the behaviour of all concerned at the time. Equally important will be recommendations for measures to prevent such occurrences and for making changes in emergency procedures, if necessary. The report should be ready by the end of the month (October 2003).

The SFOE has already begun a round of discussions with the grid regulators and with the authorities responsible for questions relating to electricity in France and Italy. Also participating in a neutral capacity is Nordel, the organisation responsible for co-operation between transmission grid operators in the Nordic countries. The priority objective is a joint assessment of the circumstances of the blackout. The talks will also clarify how co-operation between Switzerland and neighbouring countries should be managed in any future crisis.

The outcome of this inquiry into the grid failure of 28.09.03 will be taken into consideration by the Department in finalising the new law regulating the electricity supply industry. In particular it raises the question of the adequacy of current industry structures, and of the relevant federal authorities, when it comes to guaranteeing the security of electricity supplies.


Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications

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