NGO: More blackouts unless consumers reduce need for power

Israel Energy Forum says public should be encouraged to conserve and manage its electricity use.

electricity work 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
electricity work 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
There likely won't be enough electrical power to meet the country's needs during peak times in the coming years unless consumption is managed more efficiently, the Israel Energy Forum said, in a report released for publication on Monday morning. The public should be encouraged to conserve and manage its electricity use in the same way it's encouraged to save water, according to the report's authors, Drs. Shahar Dolev and Erez Svardlov. All three major consumer sectors (households, industry and the government) waste a lot of electricity, which cannot be allowed while reserves are so low, they say. Israel's electricity reserves are at all-time lows, more than 15 percent lower than they should be. As a result, if any generator malfunctions during peak times, the Israel Electric Corporation goes into "Condition Red" and initiates so-called "rolling" brownouts to prevent a total collapse of the system. The IEC reached that state last Monday during the two-day heat wave. Consumption has increased at extremely high rates over the last decade, due in part to rapid population growth and in part to rising living standards, the two wrote. Dolev and Svardlov cited projections that demand will double in the next decade, or even triple according to less conservative forecasts. While projects to build new generators are in the works, no new large scale generators or solar fields will be ready for at least a few years, which means that usage will have to be reduced in the interim, the wrote. The authors offered a number of concrete suggestions to manage use. Their first suggestion was for the government to implement a PR and education campaign to encourage conservation, similar to those that have been run to encourage the saving of water. In addition, they suggested the creation of energy supervisor positions at all companies whose job it would be to plan and manage the firm's energy use. For instance, a company could switch its heavy-usage time to off-peak hours. There should also be a series of economic incentives to reduce peak time use, the authors recommended. The electricity tariffs should be staggered, with higher usage costing much more. Tariffs for water use already work this way, they pointed out. In addition, tariffs should reflect differences between peak time and off peak. Peak-time use should cost more than off-peak use. For instance, household consumers who now run their washing machines and dryers during the day, would be persuaded by the lower rates to run them all night instead, when demand is lower. Similarly, businesses could spread out their usage so as not to overload the circuits. The authors also suggested encouraging a new market for "aggregators" and electric service companies. Aggregators would connect users into a network, which would then be able to offer the IEC an immediate drop in use during peak times, for a price. Electric service companies would manage companies' usage and make them more efficient and strategic about when to use their electricity. The Israel Energy Forum also encouraged the government to figure out how to allocate land for the electricity market, since solar energy requires a lot of space. In addition, the report urged the government to create a single, effective authority to manage the market. The Israel Energy Forum is an NGO that promotes a sustainable energy economy. It brings together experts from academia, government and business to facilitate cooperation and problem solving.