Grid project Mörel – Ulrichen

A new 380 kilovolt line is being constructed between Mörel and Ulrichen. The construction of this line is necessary to ensure that all of the energy generated from hydropower in the Valais can reach Central Switzerland and Ticino.

Your contact for this grid project

Jan Schenk
Jan Schenk

Phone +41 58 580 21 11

380 kV line
380 kV line
220 kV line
220 kV line
Existing line
Existing line


The extra-high-voltage line between Mörel and Ulrichen will be newly constructed with a voltage of 380 kilovolt. Without connecting the transmission lines in the Valais to the 380-kilovolt grid, it will only be possible to transport around two thirds of the Valais production from hydropower once the new Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant commences operation. The construction of the SBB's new 132 kilovolt railway power line is also critical for the secure operation of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) at the Gotthard.

Improvement compared to the current situation

  • The lines with lower voltage levels and the SBB railway power line will be bundled on the same pylons. This will relieve the burden on Goms.
  • The new line will be built on the shaded southern slope further away from the settlement areas. The existing 220 kilovolt line will be dismantled. This currently passes through the centre of villages, especially in the region of Ernen, Ritzingen and Reckingen, impairing the development of these settlements.
  • All provisions relating to limits for electromagnetic radiation are complied with, while the values in some areas are well below these limits. The noise burden is significantly reduced.
Opinions and impressions of the project
Opinions and impressions of the project


Bitsch/Massaboden – Mörel section

The existing 220 kV line between the Elektra Massa power plant in Bitsch and the switchgear in Mörel – Filet will be converted. The valley crossing between the Bitsch substation and Termen with four new pylons has already been constructed. Now, 7 pylons will be replaced to accommodate the 132 kV railway power line, which will also be 8 metres higher. The main pylon and cable installation activities are expected to be carried out in 2022. Swissgrid is also renewing the switchgear in Bitsch. Construction started in April 2020.

Mörel – Ernen section

  • The planning approval decision by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) from December 2016 for the construction of the new extra-high-voltage line between Mörel and Ernen is legally binding. The Federal Administrative Court confirmed the overhead line version on 26 March 2019 and rejected the complaints. No complaints were submitted to the federal court by the deadline. Swissgrid had submitted a comprehensive cable study with various cable variants in the area of the Binna crossing.
  • Swissgrid can now construct the new overhead line. The preliminary work will be carried out in 2020. The access paths to the future pylon locations and installation areas will be created until the spring of 2021. The construction of the pylon foundations will take place in the summer of 2021. The pylons themselves will be installed between the autumn of 2021 and 2022. The new pylons will be painted green before installation so that they blend into the landscape. This line section is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2022. The dismantling of the current 220 kV Swissgrid line and the 65 kV Valgrid lines will take place in 2023.
  • Adjustment of the route in Grengiols
    In the municipalities of Grengiols and Bister, five pylons of the originally approved line route will be relocated along a length of approx. 2.3 km. The new line route will require one fewer pylon to be installed, as the geological conditions are more favourable. The relocation of the line has a positive impact on the landscape, and the pylons will be less visible from the village of Grengiols. Following the confirmation of the line route by the Federal Administrative Court in 2019, the canton of Valais reached an agreement with Swissgrid to adjust he line route in the vicinity of the municipality of Grengiols. The project adjustment was legally approved by the Swiss Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations (ESTI) in March 2021 and can now be implemented.
Projektplanung bei optimalem Verlauf
Project planning for optimal execution

Ernen – Ulrichen section

57 new pylons were built and the existing 220 kilovolt and 65 kilovolt overhead lines will be dismantled between the Ernen and Ulrichen substations. The main work (foundation and pylon construction, rope installation) took place between 2017 and 2020.

  • The foundation was constructed between April and November 2017. Four concrete bases were erected at every pylon location and the foundations were anchored in the subsoil with micropiles. The construction material was transported into the impassable terrain primarily by helicopter, which will result in noise emissions at the construction sites.
  • The installation of the pylons, which are up to 85 metres high, took place between April 2018 and mid 2019. The conductors were installed by the autumn of 2019. The line commenced operating along the Ernen – Ulrichen section in October 2019.
  • By mid-2020, the pylons will be coated in a green paint for protection against corrosion and to better integrate into the landscape. Swissgrid will then return the installation locations to their natural state and restore their ecological value. Swissgrid will also implement national nature conservation projects in the area of the new line route.
  • The existing 220 kV line between Ernen and Ulrichen, which predominantly passes through the villages, was dismantled by mid-2020..

The total costs for the new Mörel – Ulrichen extra-high-voltage line amount to approximately 100 million Swiss francs.

General site plan Ernen – Ulrichen section
General site plan Ernen – Ulrichen section


The existing 220-kilovolt overhead line between Mörel and Ulrichen will be taken down after the new line has been commissioned. The existing 65-kilovolt Mörel – Ernen 1, Mörel – Ernen 2 and Ernen – Ulrichen overhead lines will also be dismantled.

Pylons, conductors, ground conductor and insulators

Steel lattice pylons and plastic insulators will be used for all pylons.

1,000 mm2 Aldrey conductors are used for the transmission and railway power lines; twin conductors will be used in the transmission line. The 65-kilovolt line will be equipped with 600 mm2 Aldrey single conductors. The ground conductor has a diameter of approx. 350 mm2 and contains an integrated fibre-optic cable.

Substation Ernen

A modern 220-kilovolt substation will be built at the new location in Niederernen. The old substation in Fiesch and the line connection will be dismantled. This prevents the crossing of the Rhone and relieves the burden on the settlement area. The centrepiece of the new 220 kV Ernen substation is the gas-insulated switchgear. A second 220/65 kV transformer will also be installed to increase the regional security of supply.

Cable study Binna crossing

General site plan cable study Binna crossing
General site plan cable study Binna crossing

A bridge solution to the Binna crossing is being considered for cable version 1. The cable bridge is a version in the topologically difficult area of the Binna crossing with steep drops on both sides.

The cable bridge could be used as a pedestrian connection. Special consideration must be given to the magnetic field on account of the proximity of the pedestrians to the cable arrangement. An aluminium panel could be attached above the cable arrangement to shield the magnetic fields.

Visualisierung Binnaquerung
Visualisation of the Binna crossing cable

Project Advisory Council

The Project Advisory Council is a consultative forum that allows the active involvement of the various members and in which mutual understanding can be promoted and different concerns can be raised directly.

The Project Advisory Council was constituted on 21 November 2013 to supervise the cable study for the «Binnegga-Binnachra-Hockmatta-Hofstatt» area and was used until the submission of the cable study to the SFOE in October 2014. The Project Advisory Council was composed of the following persons:

Dr. Heinrich Zimmermann, Swissgrid, Chair
Martin Weber, Swissgrid, Deputy Chair
Fritz Hug, Swissgrid
Jeanine Glarner, Swissgrid
Christine Haag, SBB
Didier Pauchard, SBB
Ivo Abgottspon, Valgrid SA
Klaus Agten, municipality of Grengiols
Christine Clausen, municipality of Ernen
Edwin Zeiter, municipality of Bister
Eva-Maria Kläy, Pro Natura, also represents WWF Upper Valais
Dominique Weissen, Binntal Landscape Park
Matthias Rapp, Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation
Stefan Julen, Raumplanung & Umwelt
Jürg Schildknecht-Fasel, private objector Ernen / Grengiols

People & environment

Electromagnetic fields

A total of 19 buildings within the study perimeter were classified as OMEN. The magnetic field was calculated for all OMENs. In 18 OMENs, the system limit value of 1 microtesla was maintained. In one OMEN, the system limit was exceeded slightly – a dispensation has been granted for this.


The new line routing is used in the entire project perimeter south of the existing building zones and residential areas. By moving the line from the banks of the Rhône and out of the open agricultural land to the wooded hillsides, the potential conflict of the existing 220 kV line from the construction zones in several communities will be resolved. In terms of the landscape, there will be a general improvement over the existing situation.

Due to the bundling with the 132 kV railway power line and the 65 kV line on the same pylons as well as to the higher voltage, however, the pylons will be taller than the existing 220 kV line.


The majority of the pylon sites are located in the forest. Other locations are used intensively for agriculture or include semi-dry meadows and extensively grazed areas.

Along the Ernen – Ulrichen section, the clearing work along the line route was carried out in the spring of 2018. This was necessary to ensure safety on the construction site and safe operation of the line. An approximately 30-metre-wide corridor was cleared over a distance of around 16 kilometres. Trees and shrubs are beginning to grow again in this area. Over time, this will allow the line to blend into the landscape better.

A total forested area of 15,288 m2 had to be cleared to install the line at the pylon locations along the Ernen – Ulrichen section. The temporary clearing of 22,572 m2 is required to provide access to the building sites and pylon locations. Suppression is necessary for an area of 292,471 m2.

Natural hazards

After every forest-clearing measure, Swissgrid checks whether additional safety measures are required to protect people and the environment. For example, snow barriers and timber tripods are erected to protect against avalanches. Moreover, Swissgrid also plants young trees in glades along the line route. These kinds of precautions were taken in the municipalities of Ernen, Goms and Obergoms. They guarantee the safety of the roads, which are used year-round, during winter. Besides this, they also support the growth of the forest in the vicinity of the line. The measures allow the forest to fulfil its long-term role of unrestrictedly protecting against avalanches.

In the section stretching from Mörel to Ernen, the forest-clearing activities along the line route are expected to be carried out by the spring of 2021. In this section Swissgrid will once again review whether additional protective measures for avalanches and snow slides are necessary. A definitive assessment of the situation and the agreement upon suitable measures is possible only after deforestation.


  • Amphibians / reptiles / small mammals / fish
    No special habitats such as ponds will be affected by the construction work. No interventions in fishing waters are to be made.
  • Wild Game
    During construction, care will be taken to ensure that game is not disturbed, particularly during the hunting season. As almost all pylon locations are approached by helicopter, these helicopter operations will disturb the wild game only for a limited time.
  • Birds
    No serious conflicts for grouse, golden eagles and migratory birds are to be expected. By moving the lines near Mörel, the potential for conflict for the peregrine falcon has been largely defused. The autumn migration is disturbed to only a small extent, as the line runs parallel to the direction of the valley along the slope.

Vegetation and habitats

The interventions are local and cover small areas; they will not lead to the disappearance of larger habitats.

  • During the construction phase: The areas of intervention in the soil include the installation locations, the pylon locations and any temporary roads that are required
  • During the operating phase: The interventions remain limited to the pylon locations

Replacement measures

The following overhead lines are to be dismantled with the commissioning of the new 380 kV line:

  • existing Mörel - Ulrichen 220 kV overhead line of Swissgrid
  • 65 kV Ernen – Mörel 1 overhead line of Valgrid SA
  • 65 kV Ernen – Mörel 2 overhead line of Valgrid SA
  • 65 kV Ernen – Ulrichen overhead line of Valgrid SA
  • 65 kV Heiligkreuz – Fiesch overhead line of Gommerkraftwerke AG between Binnegga and Fiesch

The three 65 kV Fiesch – Ernen – Heiligkreuz, Mörel – Ernen and Ernen – Ulrichen overhead lines will be installed underground between the Fiesch power plant, the Ernen power plant and pylon No. 1461.

As the forest cover of the reforestation area will occur naturally, alternative measures were defined in addition to a real substitute:

  • Tunetsch cultivated landscape: creating a new wet biotope
  • Hockmatte-Schärtegga and Binnachra-Sengg cultivated landscapes: extension of the ecological network, keeping open the in-growth areas
  • keeping various dry meadows and pastures open


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