COVID-19

Measures and current information

The Swiss extra-high-voltage grid is the backbone of the electricity supply in Switzerland. As the operator of critical infrastructure, Swissgrid is aware of this great responsibility and responded early to the coronavirus threat, taking the necessary measures to permanently ensure the security and stability of the transmission grid. Secure grid operation as well as the health and safety of employees and business continuity are top priority at Swissgrid.

Stay at home where possible and follow the recommendations provided by the authorities. The Swissgrid specialists are working round the clock to ensure that electricity flows reliably throughout the grid, even in these challenging times.

Current situation

As of: 19 May 2020

Grid operation

The grid operation in Switzerland is secure and stable. Swissgrid is in close contact with the other European transmission system operators as well as the national distribution grid operators.

Grid load

The grid load is slightly less than during the same period last year and is roughly equivalent to the level on a Sunday in normal times.

Swissgrid

Operations are running normally thanks to a range of measures and modern infrastructure at the locations as well as in the IT area. All Swissgrid employees whose presence at one of the locations is not essential for operational reasons are working from their home offices.

Construction work

Construction work is partly restricted in the various grid projects. The maintenance work necessary to ensure secure operation is being carried out. Compliance with the hygiene requirements is ensured.


Grid key figures

Current frequency

A stable grid frequency of 50 Hz is an important sign of a secure grid operation. The grid frequency indicates that the production and consumption of electrical energy are in equilibrium.

End-user energy consumption

The figure shows the volume of electrical energy used by end consumers in Switzerland each month.

The chart shows the volume of electrical energy used by end consumers in Switzerland each month. It does not include transmission losses, energy needed to run pumps or energy consumed by the power plants themselves. The distribution grid operators provide the monthly data no earlier than after the 10th working day of the following month. As the transmission system operator, Swissgrid does not have access to real-time data on electricity consumption in Switzerland.


Measures

Swissgrid established a working group early on, at the end of January, and set up a task force on 28 February. These committees are permanently monitoring the situation, developing scenarios and taking measures to safeguard employees and secure grid operations. These measures have proven their worth: the operation of the transmission grid is ensured.

Organisation

The COVID-19 task force was launched on 28 February. It is constantly analysing the current situation, developing scenarios and corresponding measures, and working with a pandemic emergency plan. The task force is in close contact with the competent authorities and all relevant stakeholders. The COVID-19 task force is also planning the responsible and gradual ramp-up after the loosening of the protective measures in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.

Health protection and access regulations

Besides ensuring the stability of the grid, employee health is a top priority for Swissgrid. Many employees are specialists in their field and are responsible for critical functions that ensure the secure operation of the transmission grid. Swissgrid was quick to introduce measures to minimise the risk of infection at the workplace. Hygiene and protective measures, such as hand sanitisers at all locations, were introduced at the workplace as early as the start of February. These were followed by conduct recommendations for health protection, a ban on international business trips, the elimination of the use of public transport as well as tighter access regulations for third parties to enter Swissgrid buildings and plants. At the moment, only employees whose role makes their presence on site essential are working at the locations. For example, this includes the operators in the grid control division.

Digitalisation, team splitting and home office

Swissgrid introduced team splitting at an early stage, on 3 March. This involved splitting the teams with the aim of preventing the mutual infection of equivalent or similar functions. This is meant to ensure that, if individual employees fall ill, this does not result in the infection and temporary loss of an entire team. The principle: some worked at home, the others on site. The exchange of employees between the grid control rooms in Aarau and Prilly was suspended. The measures have been successful to date. Since 13 March around 90% of employees have been working from their home offices. The changeover ran quite smoothly. Mobile working and home offices have been in use at Swissgrid for quite a while to provide employees with the greatest possible flexibility and work-life balance. The digitalisation of processes together with the necessary IT infrastructure is well advanced and is proving its worth in the current situation.

Construction site operation – grid projects

Although it was very challenging in the beginning, most of the construction projects are moving forward. Projects in the planning phase are not affected to the same extent as those in the construction phase. The work on the new line between Beznau and Birr is advancing as planned. In Valais, the foundation work for the construction of the line between Chamoson and Chippis is proceeding normally. However, the employees from the Italian construction company cannot be used for pylon construction in Switzerland. Swissgrid is looking for alternatives. Precise compliance with the hygiene and distancing regulations is being monitored on all construction sites.

Maintenance of grid infrastructure

Service and maintenance work to ensure secure grid operation is also continuing. This includes scheduled maintenance work (incl. forest clearing, protection against corrosion) as well as unscheduled maintenance measures when infrastructure is damaged or disrupted due to external influences (incl. due to lighting strike, wind, heat, avalanche or landslides). In the latter case, it must be possible to carry out the maintenance work immediately, in consultation with grid operations management. Once again, precise compliance with the hygiene and distancing regulations is closely monitored.

National and international collaboration

To ensure stable and secure grid operation, Swissgrid relies on close cooperation with numerous domestic and international partners. Swissgrid is therefore in close contact with its partners from the Swiss electricity industry, the authorities, service providers and the transmission system operators in Europe.


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