Landau unveils plan to curb energy use by 20%

Savings would represent ‘virtual power plant,’ says national infrastructures minister.

landau dayan tel shiloh 311 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
landau dayan tel shiloh 311
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
A plan to curb Israel’s electricity usage by 20% by the end of the decade was unveiled Monday by National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau at a Tel Aviv press conference.
The ministry’s Energy Efficiency Plan sets tougher import standards for electrical appliances, increases enforcement and will educate the public on the importance of saving energy.
The plan aims to reduce national consumption by some 3,400 megawatts by 2020.
Landau likened the plan to building “a virtual power plant,” and said that by saving energy, Israel could avoid having to build new physical plants.
To put the plan in motion, the National Infrastructures Ministry wants to pass relevant legislation and establish a NIS 200 million a year Energy Efficiency Fund that will finance the plan’s implementation. The money for the new fund will be generated by a 1% levy on electricity prices.
The plan, Landau noted, “is a comprehensive one that provides a long list of steps to be taken across all sectors, determines priorities and presents the things that need to be done and the ways they will be executed by the ministry. The plan includes monetary incentives, tax benefits, standards and regulations, workshops, advertising advocacy and more.”
Deputy director-general in charge of energy and water infrastructure, Alex Kushnir, stressed that while the plan was ambitious, it would not require a dramatic shift in citizen behavior or great sacrifice on their part.
“Overall the plan is economically worthwhile for residents, too. They will be required to pay a little extra for their electricity, but the money will return to them in the long term. By reducing energy use, they will lower their electricity bills,” said Kushnir.
For the residential sector, the plan’s main focus is on replacing old and inefficient appliances with new, energyefficient ones. The ministry will set strict standards on the import of appliances, forbid the entrance of energy- guzzling ones, and make sure that old ones are destroyed.
For some appliances, like refrigerators, the ministry will provide grants for needy families to replace their old fridges, so they can share in the power savings without having to come up with large sums to buy new ones.
Another way that homes will save energy is by replacing incandescent lighting with energy-efficient lightbulbs. Kushnir said that in order for the efficient bulbs to be purchased, their price has to drop from NIS 20 to NIS 12 or NIS 13.
“We have no intention of entering each and every house to make sure which light bulbs they use. That’s simply not practical. What we can do is provide incentives for retailers to reduce their prices by offering discounts and specials. Already we are seeing that 20-30% of households are in the market for energy-efficient lighting,” said Kushnir.
Ministry director-general Shaul Tsemach said that regulations forbidding the import of incandescent lightbulbs above 60 watts have already been drawn up and are awaiting the approval of the Justice Ministry.
For the commercial and industrial sectors, the plan assumes that economic calculations will drive them to increase efficiency. Kushnir said that the ministry would offer its support and guidance to businesses interested in reducing energy use, but that the commercial and industrial sectors were more aware of savings as an economic imperative than the public at large.
The plan was received warmly in Israel’s energy and environmental circles.
“This is the first time that the government has presented a widespread and comprehensive energy-efficiency plan,” said Israel Energy Forum head Yael Cohen Paran. “We are glad to see that the work we put in to promoting an energy efficiency plan paid off.
While praising the plan, she added, “it is now the ministry’s responsibility to see it implemented as fast as possible.”
The campaign against the construction of a coal-powered plant also congratulated the ministry on its plan, stating that the NIS 2 billion efficiency plan will make the coal plant planned for Ashkelon redundant .
Landau intends to bring the new fund to the cabinet for approval in the upcoming weeks.