Swiss voters pave the way for massive renewable energy adoption

Voters backed the Swiss government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy.

Reuters reports that the new plan approves a ban on all new nuclear plant constructions and provides much-needed support to struggling utilities.

Provisional final figures indicate that 58.2 percent of voters agreed with the law in a public in a binding referendum.

This Swiss initiative mimics a Europe-wide effort to reduce dependence on nuclear power, inspired by the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The Swiss are no the first country to do this. Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, while Austria banned it decades ago.

“The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” Energy Minister Doris Leuthard told Reuters, adding the law would boost domestic renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies.

“The law leads our country into a modern energy future,” she told a news conference, adding some parts of the law would take effect in early 2018.

Leuthard has said the package would cost the average family 40 francs more a year, based on a higher grid surcharge to fund renewable subsidies.

Reuters also adds that critics said a family of four would pay 3,200 Swiss francs ($3,290) in extra annual costs, while more intermittent wind and solar energy would mean a greater reliance on imported electricity.

Switzerland was a net power importer in 2016.

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