Swiss voters recently adopted a revised Energy Act. The new law includes extensive measures to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and promote renewable energy. In particular, the revised act aims to promote energy from water, sun, wind and geothermic energy produced in Switzerland. Existing hydroelectric power plants will temporarily obtain subsidies and the construction of new nuclear power plants will be prohibited.
Swiss voters were recently called on to decide on the popular initiative for an orderly withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme. The initiative called for a revision of the Federal Constitution to ban the operation of nuclear power plants generating electricity and shut down all of Switzerland's five existing nuclear reactors by 2029, notably by restricting their operational lifetime to 45 years. However, it was rejected by 54.2% of voters and 20 of the 26 cantons.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court finally addressed the question of what the consequence for failing to comply with a mandatory pre-arbitral condition should be. The decision is particularly important for international construction contracts and other contracts in the energy sector, which often contain multi-tier dispute resolution clauses requiring parties to resort to mediation, conciliation, dispute boards or dispute adjudication boards before initiating arbitration.
The Federal Council recently confirmed that it was delaying full liberalisation of the Swiss electricity market. The Federal Electricity Supply Act provides that liberalisation should occur in two stages. The council has indicated that full liberalisation will now depend on the evolution of the energy pact with the European Union, progress achieved with Energy Strategy 2050, prevailing market conditions and the revision of the Federal Electricity Supply Act.