Switzerland’s Competition Commission (COMCO) has approved a plan by the country’s grid operators to set up a joint venture that will operate the national grid.

The venture, to be known as Swissgrid, must fulfil conditions such as third party access and publishing usage tariffs before operations begin. Swissgrid will not be allowed to generate or trade electricity either. The company was created late last year but concerns that its operations may harm competition in some regions, especially in north western Switzerland, prompted a COMCO investigation.

Swissgrid was founded by Atel, BKW, CKW, EOS, EGL and NOK. EWZ will also join the group by taking control of the operator, which is expected to start operations in the autumn of 2005.