Stromverband warns against more above-ground lines – economy

Above ground power lines are not popular. When one is going to be built, it greeted objections. Now the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE) warns for more such overhead lines – especially in urban areas.

The reason: a new regulation that the Bundesrat wants to create. It determines when a line is laid in the ground and when it is not. The proposal is currently being discussed, along with other regulations of the electricity grid. To this day, the stakeholders can still respond. It turns out: the proposal is very controversial.

Expensive soil lines

Laying pipes in the ground is expensive. Electricity grid operators only do this if they are compensated for the extra costs. The proposal of the Federal Council now stipulates that an electrical power line must always be laid in the ground if the cost does not exceed 1.75 times the size of an overhead contact line. In these cases, the network operators can increase the cost of the ground line to the electricity price and bring it back to the customers.

However, if the costs are more than 1.75 times higher, they are no longer credible. The network operator would then be against the extra cost of a ground line. That is why he has no reason to lay the high-voltage line in the ground. He will probably build a catenary. Unless he receives an exemption from the federal government, which would be possible under certain conditions. Or someone else, such as an affected private person, pays the extra costs.

The Federal Council could have been higher than 1.75. According to the law, the so-called extra cost factor may not exceed 3. High-voltage lines are also laid in the ground if they are up to 3 times more expensive than a overhead line. He justifies the fact that the Federal Council has refrained from a study that the German consulting firm Consentec wrote on behalf of the federal government in 2013.

Demanding differentiation between city and country

The study concludes that surcharges on the electricity price would rise sharply if the extra cost factor exceeds 1.75. Electricity would be much more expensive for households.

Moreover, the federal government assumes that with a factor of 1.75 about 88 percent of the lines would be laid in the ground. With a higher factor, only a "relatively small increase" of pipes placed in the ground can be achieved.

The industry does not agree with that. The Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE) is of the opinion that the extra cost factor of 1.75 would result in more overhead lines in urban areas. For reasons of cost, "numerous home connections and supply lines" would no longer be realized as underground cables, the association said in its consultation response. It could even come so far that it was already planned that underground cables would be redesigned as above-ground lines.

Michael Frank, director of the VSE, says: "It is more expensive to open a street in the center to lay a cable than a field." The association therefore proposes a differentiation in its response to the consultation: for rural areas it accepts the Bundesrat's proposal. In city ground cables but would have to be three times more expensive than overhead lines.

Less care in the Canton of Bern

How do the network operators see this? Would you build more overhead lines if the Federal Council proposal comes up? The views are different. Some consider the factor 1.75 as too low, the power plants of the city (EWZ) and the Canton of Zurich (EKZ) for example. The extra costs of underground pipes would in many cases exceed this factor, he said EWZ, the EKZ do not threaten with more above ground lines. Because this would not be accepted in cities and agglomerations. But you are determined to use a higher cost factor in order not to keep the costs of laying the ground.

Less worried is the proposal from the Bundesrat to the Bernese providers. The network of the energy company BKW is mainly located in rural areas where underground cabling is cheaper. The proposal of the Federal Council should therefore not lead to more above-ground lines, ie the BKW.

Stadtberner Energieversorger EWB is also not very concerned: "Most of our pipelines are already in the ground.The cable channels exist," says a spokeswoman The costs of a cable replacement are not comparable to the costs of new cables. is therefore only marginally affected.

(Editors Tamedia)

Created: 30.09.2018, 20:12

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