The Public Utility Authority on Monday night issued the first license for a
solar power facility on Beduin land, approving the Tarabin family’s application
to build an 8-megawatt photovoltaic field on their property in the Abu Basma
region in the northwestern Negev.
The $30 million field will encompass 15
hectares (37 acres) and will be developed by Arava Power Company, the firm
responsible for opening the country’s first medium-sized solar field in Kibbutz
Ketura in June. Arava Power signed a contract with the Tarabin family a
year-and-a-half ago, and 80 percent of the money for the project is slated to
come from OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation), an independent United
States government agency.
“I would like to thank all those who labored to
advance this outstanding achievement to build a solar field on the Tarabin
family’s land,” community leader Haj Musa Tarabin said. He thanked Arava
president, Yosef Abramowitz, for his social justice vision. “It is a dream come
true for the Beduin population as solar energy will provide fixed sources of
income and economic benefit to the Beduin in the Negev. I hope that there will
be many more solar projects to come for our community,” he said.
to acquiring the approval was not easy. The Public Utility Authority delayed
making the decision twice in January, something that Abramowitz had feared would
put the Tarabin family at a disadvantage, as more and more of the 300-megawatt
cap for medium-sized fields was being claimed in the meanwhile.
most recent postponement occurred two weeks ago, Abramowitz said that the delays
made Israel appear “in a negative light with the American
Now that the Tarabin family field has been approved,
Abramowitz recommended that the government allocate a quota for Beduin solar
fields, so they do not get closed out of the competition to acquire
“If Israel’s government doesn't allocate a significant quota for
Beduin solar fields, it will be difficult for these citizens of Israel to
genuinely participate in the domestic solar industry, as they are in a
disadvantaged position compared with other landowners,” Abramowitz said, adding
that economic and social justice must reach the Beduin community. “Solar power
for Beduin in Israel can be a positive example for all indigenous peoples around
the world, from Native Americans to First Nations, Aboriginals and others with
historic land claims.”
In total, Arava Power has signed five contracts
with Beduin families to build solar project, encompassing 540 dunams (133 acres)
and about 31 megawatts, according to the company.
“A thriving and
developed solar industry among the Beduin communities will grant an economic and
social solution for one of Israel’s disadvantaged populations,” said Jon Cohen,
Arava Power CEO.
“I hope the government of Israel will view this as a
long-term investment that will advance the Beduin population in the Negev. I am
proud that Arava Power is pioneering entrepreneurship that integrates social
justice into an economical and green business project.”