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Switzerland may resort to four-hour regional blackouts if Europe's energy crisis leads to power shortages in the winter, a senior utility sector official said on Wednesday, Reuters quoted.

The country is bracing for power and gas shortages due to the war in Ukraine, possible gas supply disruptions and possible problems at nuclear power plants in France, although energy supplies are secure for now, Swiss officials said.

Michael Frank, director of the VSE association of Swiss electricity companies, said Switzerland plans to gradually introduce increasingly stringent energy-saving measures if necessary.

First, the government will ask for voluntary austerity steps, with a campaign to inform the public about what's coming next month.

The government can then limit non-essential use of electricity such as window lighting, use of mobile heaters or lighting at night, Michael Frank told a government briefing in Bern.

Around 30,000 companies could then be ordered to save up to 30% of their energy use in an extreme scenario.

Frank estimated that the first three phases could reduce electricity demand by 25-30%.

As a last resort, Bern may begin to introduce a current regime in individual regions of the country.

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"You have to think of this as a jigsaw puzzle. Individual segments will be off the power grid for four hours, then back on, while others will be off. Some parts of the grid, or 'puzzle pieces', won't they have power for four hours, then they'll have power again for four or eight hours depending on the situation," he said.

Switzerland has chosen a distribution approach because it wants to avoid a direct complete shutdown of the grid, as France envisages in a possible extreme situation, he added.

Meanwhile, all eyes remain on whether Russian gas will flow back to Western Europe, where Switzerland receives its supplies, especially after the completion of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline maintenance work scheduled to be completed by Thursday.


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