Electricity reserves pose risk for summer blackouts
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau says reserves down to only 2-3%.
By ALEX SORIN
The state of Israel's electricity reserves is dire, which could lead to rolling blackouts over the next few months, as demand for energy hits its summer peaks, National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said Monday
The current estimate puts the reserves at two to three percent when they should be at 17% to 25%.
In recent weeks, numerous ad hoc discussions have been held, under the Landau's auspices to find solutions to the electricity shortage.
One solution proposed by the ministry is to hire private companies and government bodies - including government ministries - to supply electricity from their generators. This could supply hundreds of additional megawatts.
In an emergency, an older generator, Eshkol B, could be brought online. This option has been criticized by environmental groups who are dismayed by the generator's highly polluting capability, and blame the problem on the Government's myopia.
"The generator is powered by heavy oil, one of the most polluting fossil fuels that exist. Its use is absolutely a problem regarding air pollution and gas emissions," said Tzipi Iser Itzik, executive director of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense.
"We are again watching a shortage crisis, something that could have been predicted if the government could look at the long run instead of the short run. There is a lack of policy regarding energy efficiency in Israel, and a lack of renewable energy," she said.
If a main generator goes down during the peak consumption months, the Israel Electric Company would implement a series of controlled blackouts. This could possibly result in a loss to the economy of millions of shekels.
The minister, in a statement, said the perilous situation requires immediate action to prevent an electricity crisis similar to the one in May 2008.
The Israel Electric Corp. will undertake a campaign to raise public awareness on the pernicious effects of ill-managed energy use during the peak consumption months.
In addition, the National Infrastructures Ministry has asked the IEC to present them with a weekly report regarding the expected electricity demands, and the actions needed to implemented to meet them.
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