Swiss dam fault kills thousands of trout

Thousands of trout were killed in Switzerland after technical trouble at a hydroelectric dam stemmed the water flow in a national park, the Swiss news agency ATS reported.

Swiss dam fault kills thousands of trout
The Punt da Gall dam in eastern Switzerland. Photo: Hansueli Krapf

The incident occurred on Saturday at the Punt dal Gall dam in the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland, ATS quoted the power firm Engadiner Kraftwerk and the Swiss National Park as saying.

Earlier Saturday, park rangers raised the alarm after noticing that the water level in the River Spoel had dropped dramatically.

As a result, officials at the dam opted to open a duct to resolve the problem.

But that decision proved to be a major error.

It sent a wave of sediment spiralling downstream, killing the trout and other aquatic wildlife along a six-kilometre (four-mile) stretch of river.

The Punt dal Gall dam is located in the Livigno valley at the border between the Swiss canton of Graubenden and the Italian region of Lombardy. 

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Alpiq write-offs drive results into the red

Alpiq, Switzerland’s biggest provider of electricity, on Monday announced a net loss of 902 million francs in 2014 compared to a profit of 18 million francs in the previous year.

Alpiq write-offs drive results into the red
Alpiq power dam in the canton of Ticino. Photo: Alpiq

The energy group said its results were impacted by more than a billion francs’ worth of impairments and provisions after taxes, mainly for its hydro plants.

Alpiq continues to deal with low wholesale prices for electricity.

Revenue for the year dropped 14 percent to 8.06 billion francs from 9.37 billion francs in 2013.

But the company said the results are better than expected because of cost management and operating performance.

Among other things, Alpiq has reorganized its debt by buying back bonds before maturity and replacing them with new ones to improve its financing structure.

It said results for 2015 will continue to be impacted by low wholesale prices.

“The reasons are the high subsidies for new renewable energies, which have promoted an increase of wind and photovoltaic systems, low prices for primary energies such as oil, gas and coal, as well as weak CO2 prices.”

Alpiq’s board of directors has decided to retain the dividend of two francs per share and has proposed an additional script dividend that shareholders can either take as cash or newly issued shares.

This proposal aims to strengthen the company’s capital base and improve its “financial flexibility”.