Alongside the federal government, the cantons and municipalities also bear responsibility for certain energy policy tasks. Article 89 of the Federal Constitution assigns special responsibility to the cantons for measures relating to energy consumption in buildings. In its turn, the federal government is required to take account of the efforts of the cantons and municipalities. The federal government and the cantons work closely together in the field of energy policy.
The cantons coordinate their energy-related activities within the scope of the Conference of Cantonal Energy Directors (EnDK), which unites the members of cantonal governments who are responsible for their canton’s energy dossier. The Conference of Energy Specialists (EnFK), which deals with technical issues, is affiliated to the EnDK. The EnDK has agreed on a set of joint model cantonal provisions in the energy sector (MuKEn). The aim here is to ensure that the legislation in the 26 cantons relating to energy in buildings can be harmonised to the greatest possible extent. The EnDK has also created a cantonal energy certificate for buildings (GEAK), an evaluation and advisory instrument that is applicable throughout the country.
The structure of the financial promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy differs from canton to canton. A large number of cantons have framework credits or promotion funds at their disposal from which they provide financial support for measures aimed at increasing energy efficiency and promoting the increased use of renewable energy. The measures that are supported vary from canton to canton. If they concern energy in buildings and meet the criteria of the harmonised promotion model, the cantons concerned receive support from the federal government in the form of global contributions which are partially financed via earmarked revenue from the CO2 levy. Cantons that do not have their own promotion fund only receive a basic contribution from the federal government.
The cantons are also responsible for other tasks relating to energy policy, including the specification and enforcement of regulations governing energy efficiency in companies, the definition in their structure plans of suitable regions for the use of renewable energy, advising private individuals and companies on energy issues, licensing power plant facilities and assisting with energy planning. They also perform an important function as sole or co-owners of energy companies and act as role models in the energy sector together with the federal government and municipalities.
Cities, towns and municipalities
Cities, towns and municipalities play a significant role with respect to Switzerland’s energy policy in that they have to act as role models for the general population and the economy. Municipalities can (and in some cantons, at least as of a certain size, must) to a large extent steer their energy development by means of spatial energy planning. Many municipalities also support their population with their own energy promotion programmes. Municipalities are also responsible for their own energy production facilities and for the implementation of cantonal regulations and federal legal provisions.
The SwissEnergy programme provides financial support for the activities of cities, towns and municipalities aimed at promoting renewable energy use, as well as energy efficiency and ecological mobility, in order to foster a sustainable energy and climate policy.