National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Monday gave his approval for Hemi, the Jerusalem District Electric Company, to link Jericho to Jordan's electric grid through 33,000 volt high-tension lines.
"I believe that additional countries will follow Jordan and in the future there will be a regional electric grid in our region," said Ben-Eliezer.
Hemi had negotiated with the Jordanian electric company, King Abdullah II, Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit and the country's energy minister towards their approval of the project to supply Jericho Jordanian power through Hemi lines. The move will help Hemi vary its sources (currently, it buys all electricity from Israel Electric) and cut its costs, as well as reduce the burden on the Israeli power grid.
The National Infrastructures Ministry said "this is a first step toward realizing a government decision to import electricity from neighboring countries," a policy adopted to help mitigate Israel's status as an "electricity island" - unable to count on its neighbors to help pick up the slack when the domestic grid is strained.
"While [the project does not involve] supplying [electricity] to Israeli consumers, it is any event a commercial contact in the energy field between a neighboring country and an Israeli company. In addition, this is a first step toward realizing electric contacts between Jordan and Israel," the ministry said, but stressed that the Hemi project is aimed at supplying electricity "to the Jericho area alone" and does not involve synchronizing the two countries' grids.
Hemi holds the National Infrastructure Ministry concession to provide electricity to East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho.