The Energy Article in the Federal Constitution, the Federal Energy Act, the Federal CO2 Act, the Federal Nuclear Energy Act, the Federal Electricity Supply Act and the Federal Water Use Act are the legislative instruments for securing a sustainable and modern Swiss energy policy. In addition, the energy policies of the federal government and the cantons encompass the preparation of energy perspectives, plus strategies, implementation programmes and the evaluation of energy policy measures at the municipal, cantonal and federal levels.
Energy policy was only incorporated into the Federal Constitution in 1990. Article 89 (Energy Article) stipulates that, within the framework of their responsibilities, the federal government and the cantons must establish the necessary prerequisites for securing an adequate, comprehensive, safe, economical and ecological energy supply, and for ensuring efficient and economical energy use.
As of 1990, all the cantons had introduced their own energy legislation and energy policy regulations. The first Federal Energy Act entered into force on 1 January 1999.
In the wake of the reactor disaster in Fukushima in 2011, the Federal Council announced a new energy policy (Energy Strategy 2050), which included the call for a total revision of the Federal Energy Act. The revised Act entered into force on 1 January 2018 after it had been accepted by a clear majority of voters in a referendum held in 2017.
Within the framework of the ongoing revision of the Federal Electricity Supply Act, the aim of which is to bring about the full liberalisation of the electricity market, the revised Federal Energy Act also needs to be adapted. Here, the intention is to implement measures to support the liberalisation of the market by providing more attractive incentives to invest in domestic renewable energy, and thus to strengthen Switzerland’s supply security. The Federal Council has entrusted the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) with the task of preparing a catalogue of potential measures by 2020.