New green laws cuts red tape for settlement projects

Although the regulations raise the quota of renewable energy for the whole country, their affect will be felt most keenly in Judea, Samaria.

July 18, 2011 04:42
2 minute read.
New solar field in Arava

Arava Solar Field 311. (photo credit: Sharon Udasin)

The settlement city of Ma’aleh Adumim can now save half-a million shekels a year by placing solar panels on 17 of its schools, thanks to renewable energy regulations that passed the cabinet on Sunday.

Although the regulations raise the quota of renewable energy for the whole country, their affect will be felt most keenly in Judea and Samaria, according to officials from the National Infrastructures Ministry.

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Until now there was no quota assigned to Judea and Samaria and settlers were struggling to obtain approval for renewable energy projects from the civil administration, officials said.

Now, 10 percent of the allocation for renewable energy projects has been shifted to the West Bank. The new allocation places a cap on settlement projects of 46 megawatts for large solar fields, 80 megawatts for wind power and 21 megawatts for bio fuels. In addition, there is a cap of 11 megawatts for small solar roof top projects, such as the ones that have been on hold in Ma’aleh Adumim.

Those 11 megawatts are to be spread over the next four years, with a 2-megawatt cap for 2011 and 3 megawatts for each year after that.

The national cap was not raised on medium-size solar fields, but 30 megawatts of the 300 megawatt allocation has now been reallocated to settlements.

If this quota is fully used, the total investment in renewable energy for West Banks settlements could reach $660.8 million.

According to Adi Mintz, who heads the settlers environmental group Green Yesha, construction of a solar field in Judea and Samaria could take a year-and-a-half to complete.

Small wind projects could take six months and larger ones several years.

Mintz said that studies have shown that the force of the winds in Judea and Samaria make it an ideal place for such projects.

The most immediate affect of the new regulations can be felt in the roof-top solar panels, where a number of projects such as those in Ma’aleh Adumim were on hold.

But Mintz said that around other 40 solar roof-top panels had already been approved ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Meir Abudram, who is in charge of solar projects for Ma’aleh Adumim, said that the city had been preparing to install the panels for months in hopes that the new rules would be approved.

Now, it hopes to have the solar panels on the 17 schools operational by January at the latest, Abudram said. He explained that the panels would save up to NIS 30,000 a year at each school, with a potential annual annual saving on electricity bills for all 17 schools of half-a-million shekels.

The proposal to allocate 10% of renewable energy to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria was put forward by National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu), who has said that the issue was one of basic civil rights for the residents.

Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.

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