IEC vows no outages in summer, barring multiple malfunctions

Blames last Monday's outage on "bad luck" resulting from a combination of hot weather and unrelated malfunctions in three power stations.

ta power station 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ta power station 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Electric Company CEO Amos Lasker assured the members of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday that most likely there would not be any power outages over the summer. However, he acknowledged that there could be outages if there was another series of fluke malfunctions similar to the ones which occurred last Monday. Lasker presented the assessment of the company for the coming months and said that while the reserve would potentially dip very far down, he believed there wouldn't be any outages over the summer, when demand is especially high. He also blamed the outage last Monday on "bad luck" resulting from a combination of the very hot weather and a series of unrelated malfunctions in three power stations. As a result, the company initiated brownouts which affected three percent of customers for a period of from 10 minutes to an hour, he said. He also affirmed that the outage last Monday was completely unrelated to the dispute with company employees, which has been ongoing for the past couple of months. The most critical need in the near future was to increase the company's reserves, he said. The reserves should be 25 percent of capacity, but right now hover around 10%. To that end, the company will be adding another eight generators by 2011. The controversial coal-fired power plant known as Project D is scheduled to begin operation in 2014, but environmentalists hope to stop that project altogether. Lasker called it "super essential" for the reserves on Tuesday. In order to pay for the generators, electricity prices increased by 4% at the beginning of the year and will remain higher until 2011. Lasker explained that the usual payment method was to build the power plant and then spread out the cost to the consumer over the next 10 to 15 years. However, this time, they decided to raise prices for two years to raise NIS 1 billion to pay for the new generators. At the same meeting, private electricity producers complained that regulatory blocks were preventing them from raising enough money to build power plants, both conventional and alternative energy ones. Ido Greenberg, CEO of Solar Green Sun, said that a regulatory glitch prevented banks from lending money to companies that wanted to erect household solar panel systems. Ilan Suleiman of the Electricity Authority concurred, noting that current regulations offered ways for consumers to finance such projects, but not power companies. Dalia Power Energies CEO Eitan Meir vehemently called for regulatory changes and said he had 800 MW to put into the grid which he wasn't able to. Eight hundred megawatts would give a serious boost to the IEC's reserves. The outage last Monday was caused by a difference between demand and supply of 200 MW.