Man in sea.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Electricity usage reached an all-time high Sunday with no sign of a letup in the
heat wave plaguing the region, as forecasts call for similar temperatures
throughout the week.
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The Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) has pulled
out all the stops in its power-production capability and has activated all
private producers as well. And yet, it still cannot guarantee that blackouts
won’t leave motorists without traffic lights or trap people in elevators, or
that it won’t bring the economy to a standstill.
Even an hour’s blackout
could cost the economy many millions of shekels, National Infrastructures
Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) warned.
Demand reached an all-time
high 11,110 MW at 2:30 p.m.
on Sunday afternoon, exceeding the IEC’s
prediction from a day before by over 300 MW.
The last all-time high came
on the the second day of the last heat wave to hit the region not long ago. The
utility thanked the public for heeding its calls to use heavy duty appliances
early in the morning or late at night, and not during peak usage times of 12
p.m. to 5 p.m. The company said the public’s cooperation was what prevented a
blackout on Sunday.
The IEC called on the public to continue to observe
that routine again Monday. Dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, vacuum
cleaners, electric water heaters, ovens and electric burners should not be used
between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Air conditioners should be set to 25 degrees
The Compensation Fund for Damages from Nature announced that
over 100 farmers, mostly in the North, had reported that hundreds of thousands
of chickens died in Sunday’s heat. The damage was estimated at NIS
Many chickens are kept in sub-standard conditions without proper
ventilation or space to move. The Agriculture Ministry is in the midst of
hammering out a coop reform by setting new standards, but it is not yet clear
how far the ministry will be willing to go toward improving conditions for the
The cabinet was supposed to vote on going ahead with Project D
– the plan to build two 630 MW coal-fired generators in Ashkelon – on
Instead, the cabinet discussed the issue but abstained from a
vote at the request of Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud),
who asked for more time to evaluate and present the hazardous effects of
coal-fired power plants.
In the run-up to the meeting, Landau sent a
letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stating that “the delay [in giving
the green light to continue the statutory process for Project D] is very
serious. The government is leaving a market in crisis in uncertainty. Continuing
to postpone crucial decisions puts the steady generation of electricity in
IEC CEO Amos Lasker said at the Herzliya Conference in February
that “my favorite part of the newspaper used to be the sports pages; now all I
care about is the weather forecast.”
While many people have reason to
sweat these days, Lasker is probably sweating even in his air-conditioned office
as he stares at the rising needles on his dials.