Switzerland has a semi-private system of electricity providers. In this system, each county (canton) or city in Switzerland has its own power distributor, with private companies competing to supply them with electricity. The system means that you only need to register with your local power company, although these companies do offer extensive choice when it comes to where and how you receive your electricity.
Swiss energy companies by canton
The Swiss system of energy companies means that your power company is determined by the canton where you live, as well as whether you live in a large city. These companies also supply you with water and other home utilities. The power companies for each canton are:
- Aargau (AG): AEW
- Appenzell Ausserrhoden (AU) / Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI): Energie AR / AI
- Basel Land (BL): EBL
- Basel Stadt (BS): IWB
- Bern (BE): BKW
- Freiburg / Fribourg (FR): Groupe E
- Genève (GE): SIG
- Glarus (GL): TB Glarus
- Graubünden (GR): RE Power
- Jura (JU): Jura Energy Corporation
- Lucerne city (LU) : EWL
- Luzern canton : CKW
- Neuchatel (NE) : Viteos SA
- Nidwalden (NW): Full cantonal control
- Obwalden (OW): EWO
- Schaffhausen (SH): EKS
- Schwyz (SZ): EWS
- Solothurn (SO): Regio energie Solothurn
- St. Gallen (SG): SGSW
- Thurgau (TG): EKT
- Ticino (TI): AET
- Uri (UR): Energie Uri
- Valais / Wallis (VS): CREM
- Vaud (VD): Romande Energie
- Zug (ZG): WWZ
- Zurich Canton (ZH): EKZ
- Zurich City: EWZ
Setting up your energy supplier in Switzerland
You only have to set up your energy supplier in Switzerland if you have bought a house and the previous tenant did not inform the power company of your arrival. Renting a house or apartment in Switzerland usually does not involve covering the costs of utilities directly, rather as part of the rent or as an administrative fee. Check your rental contract as to whether you will be paying for your power directly.
If you do need to register with an energy supplier, you must contact the one in your local community. You cannot use the energy company of another canton and must register with the supplier that covers your area. The things you must provide are:
- Proof of ID such as a residence permit
- Proof of address through a rental contract
- ID of any smart meter or conventional power meter
- Swiss banking details
What options do I have with a Swiss energy supplier?
Although you may not be allowed to choose your own supplier, all energy suppliers can offer various deals and services to suit your needs. Most companies offer three types of packages which can be summarised as:
- Standard package using the conventional power grid.
- Green initiative where power is taken exclusively from renewable sources.
- Full green initiatives where power is taken exclusively from renewable sources and funds are invested in green projects abroad.
These packages can be interchanged however you like. In addition, most power companies will offer competitive fees for installing solar panels and geothermal generators in most types of housing.
What is used to generate electricity in Switzerland?
Electricity for housing in Switzerland is mainly provided by renewable energy. Due to the large numbers of rivers and lakes in Switzerland, hydroelectric power is the most common form of generation. It is not uncommon for multiple hydroelectric plants to be placed in intervals on Swiss rivers, with snowmelt from the mountains providing almost abundant amounts of water.
The total percentage of types of electricity consumed by a standard Swiss family in 2020 was:
- 28 percent from hydroelectricity on rivers
- 29 percent from hydroelectric dams
- 35 percent from nuclear power
- 6 percent from solar, wind and biomass
- 2 percent from fossil fuels