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The Swiss government has warned big gas consumers on Wednesday that it could cut off their supplies if the country is caught in a severe crunch that requires rationing, Reuters reports. The cabinet has revealed that during consultations on how to handle worst-case scenarios, saying shutting off large consumers could be the quickest way to save large amounts of energy.
Previously, the government had said that households and essential services such as hospitals, homes for the elderly, firefighters, police, trash collection and sewage treatment would not be subject to rationing. However, now the country is being forced to tweak its proposals to deal with disruptions to supplies and has unveiled a series of increasingly strict steps should conservation fail to head off shortages, as reported by Reuters.
The government has also warned it could ban using gas for heating vacant buildings, for swimming pools, spas or saunas, and heated tents, saying that guaranteeing grid stability in the event of a shortage was its top priority.
"Due to the particularities of domestic gas consumption -- with a high share of building heat -- all consumer groups will probably have to make an appropriate contribution to saving gas already at the beginning of a shortage situation," the ministry said in a statement.
Switzerland gets its gas via trading hubs in neighboring countries in the European Union. The country has relatively low demand for gas, which traditionally covers around 15% of energy consumption. Switzerland uses 42% of gas to heat households, and the rest in industry and in the service and transport sectors.
Switzerland is not the only European country taking rather extreme measures to ensure its gas stores are enough to tide it over the coming winter.
France is also struggling amid refinery strikes and an imploding nuclear sector that has turned the country into a net importer of energy. In August, state-owned utility Electricite de France SA announced that it would likely be forced to extend cuts to nuclear generation as scorching weather pushes up river temperatures, making the water too hot to cool reactors.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
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Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.