ZURICH Switzerland votes on Sunday on a new energy law, titled "Energy Strategy 2050," that includes billions of Swiss francs in subsidies to support new renewable supplies and energy efficiency, while banning new nuclear power plants.
Highlights of the law are below:
* Aims to increase solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy output from 2,831 gigawatt hours (GWh) now, or just 4.3 percent of Swiss generation, to 11,400 GWh by 2035.
* Bans new nuclear power plants ahead of the eventual phase out of Switzerland's five plants, with the first closing in 2019.
* Hikes charges on electricity users to raise 480 million Swiss francs a year to subsidise energy production from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and water power.
* Provides 120 million francs ($122.21 million) a year to loss-making hydroelectric utilities to help them compete and another 60 million francs to subsidise new hydro plants or refurbish older ones.
* Offers 450 million francs a year, up from 300 million francs, to support a building energy efficiency initiative. Funds will be raised from an existing fossil fuels tax.
* Elevates renewables to "national interest" status, helping them overcome legal challenges over a project's environmental or aesthetic impact.
($1 = 0.9819 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Edmund Blair)