After a steep rise in gas and heating oil prices, portable electric heaters have been flying of the shelves in Switzerland. However, with a squeeze on electricity production there are fears these extra heaters might destabilise the power grid, reported the newspaper Tagesanzeiger.
Portable electric heater sales are up 300% compared to last year, according to a spokesperson for Interdiscount and Microspot, two Swiss electrical retailers. Other retailers report similar growth rates.
Brisk electric heater sales have not gone unnoticed and have raised concerns in the electricity industry. Thousands of electrical heaters could lead to significant instability in the power grid, said Michael Frank, director of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies.
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) is also concerned that these heaters could create a power shortage given an already strained power supply. In this context the use of electrical devices could be restricted or banned, said FONES spokeswoman Evelyne Kobelt.
Switzerland’s Federal Electricity Supply Act provides the laws necessary to restrict the use of or to ban such heaters. A ban could affect the use of all portable oil, fan or radiant electric heaters.
However, it is unlikely emergency electric heating will ever be needed. In the event of a gas shortage it is highly unlikely that the government would impose gas quotas on households. According to FONES, in the event of shortages private households would not be affected by quotas. It is not technically possible to allocate quotas to households in the same way as it can be done for companies, said the agency.
Tagesanzeiger article (in German)