A large part of the 6,700-kilometre transmission grid passes through private property. Easement contracts are required so that Swissgrid and its contracted service providers can maintain and extend the grid. In these easement contracts, landowners grant Swissgrid the right to build a line on their land and to access or drive onto that land for the purposes of maintaining the line. In return, the owners receive remuneration as defined in the contract.
Easements are generally established for the following rights or restrictions:
- Transit rights for lines (including construction rights)
- Transit rights for third-party data
- Suppression of plants and trees in the line area (planting restrictions)
- Right to drive, right of way and right of access for maintenance of the installations
- Construction and usage restrictions in the line area
The compensation payments for easements are allowable costs for a secure, effective and efficient grid (Art. 15(1) of the Electricity Supply Act). As allowable grid costs, compensation for easements are ultimately paid by all electricity consumers via the grid tariffs.
This is stipulated in the easement contract. A contract is either concluded for a limited term and has to be renewed if the line will continue operating once the contract expires or it is concluded for an indefinite period, for as long as the line is needed and operated. In this case, the easement terminates with the removal of the line.
In the past, electricity companies have handled contract durations differently («whilst the line is in place», a 50-year term or other terms). In accordance with recommendations from the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE), Swissgrid will always conclude new contracts with a term «whilst the line is in place».
Signing an easement contract with an indefinite term («whilst the line is in place») means that the contract is valid for as long as the line exists. This means that the contract becomes invalid as soon as the line is dismantled.
Under no circumstances does an easement contract define how long the line remains in operation – regardless of whether the respective contract stipulates a fixed or indefinite term. Unlike a limited-term contract, an agreement lasting «whilst the line is in place» only means that there is no need to renew the rights.
If the transit right is not for a fixed duration but rather is granted for the complete service life of the line, supplemental remuneration generally takes place every 25 years. Swissgrid introduced the 25-year compensation mode in 2013 with the takeover of the grid infrastructure. For contracts with a fixed term, remuneration is paid on conclusion of the easement contract for the entire term of the contract. The easement contract itself stipulates the exact rules governing remuneration. Contracts that were drawn up before the 2013 takeover of the grid infrastructure remain valid.
Remuneration is based on the type of land affected, the suitability of the site for cultivation, the type of easement, etc. Easements are compensated based on the difficulties caused by the line that are tangible at the time the line is erected, at the time the rights are renewed or at the time supplemental remuneration is paid.
Most Swissgrid easements relate to agricultural land. Here the amount of remuneration is based on the joint recommendations of the Swiss Farmers' Union (SBV) and the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE). The applicable remuneration methods can be obtained from the Swiss Farmers' Union Treuhand und Schätzungen department.
Yes. Easements for agricultural areas are not compensated in the same way as land with planning permission. If a line crosses land with planning permission, a construction limitation is normally agreed as an easement and the remuneration is calculated based on this.
Swissgrid provides compensation for easements based on standard rules and uses the joint recommendations of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (Verband Schweizerischer Elektrizitätsunternehmen, VSE) and the Swiss Farmers’ Union (SFU) as a basis. Both overhead lines as well as underground cables are compensated in accordance with these recommendations.
There is no formal difference between transit rights for underground and overground lines. However, because underground lines are not visible, it is mandatory to enter the easement for underground lines in the land register. This is not required with overhead lines. The content of easements for underground and overground lines can vary slightly. For example, cable lines often require building and planting restrictions to secure constant access to the line at any time without major effort.
If no agreement is reached between landowners and Swissgrid, the Federal Compulsory Purchase Commission (FCPC) launches an estimation procedure at the request of Swissgrid. The FCPC determines the amount of compensation for the easement based on the joint recommendations of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (Verband Schweizerischer Elektrizitätsunternehmen, VSE) and the Swiss Farmers’ Union (SFU).
By concluding an easement contract, the landowner undertakes to make available their land for the operation of the line, in the scope as stated in the contract and for the agreed amount of time, and is compensated accordingly. If the landowner demands that an easement or a line be relocated due to a change in usage requirements, then the landowner shall be liable for any and all related costs (Article 742 Paragraph 1 SCC).
Bouygues E&S EnerTrans AG is the sole service provider to Swissgrid on matters of easement management.
Do you have questions about or want to change your easement contract? Contact us using our contact form or by phone.
Phone +41 848 010 020