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Swiss voters embrace shift to renewable energy

Staff Writer |
Swiss voters backed the government's plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday.

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Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 percent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.

The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.

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 said, 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.

Debate on the "Energy Strategy 2050" law had focussed on what customers and taxpayers will pay for the measures and whether a four-fold rise in solar and wind power by 2035, as envisaged in the law, can deliver reliable supplies.


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