Electricity in Gaza decreases by 10%

Power Generating Company cites additional supply cuts of industrial diesel Israel allows to be imported.

gaza blackout 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza blackout 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The total electricity supply in the Gaza Strip has been reduced by 10 percent as of last Saturday because of additional cuts in the supply of industrial diesel that Israel allows to be imported into the area, the project manager of the Gaza Power Generating Company said Sunday in a sworn affidavit to the High Court of Justice. Israel, which originally introduced cuts in the supply of gasoline, diesel and industrial fuel to Gaza on October 28 after declaring the area to be a "hostile territory," increased the cuts in gasoline and industrial fuel several days ago. According to the project manager, Rafiq Maliha, the Gaza power plant requires 360,000 liters of diesel fuel per day to operate the two gas turbines at full capacity and produce a total of 65 megawatts of electricity. As a result of the sanctions, the supply has been reduced to 250,000 liters per day and the output of the power station to 45 MW. In addition to the Gaza power plant, Israel supplies 120 MW of electricity and Egypt another 17. Thus, until Saturday, the total electricity supply in Gaza amounted to 202 MW. It has now dropped to 182 MW. According to Palestinian estimates, Gaza requires a total of 210 MW to provide for its winter needs, when consumption is higher. Even before Israel imposed the first cuts, the power company was initiating planned power cuts because of the shortage in electricity caused by Israel's bombing of the turbines in June 2006. Until now, only two of the three turbines destroyed by the bombings have been replaced. Maliha added that the company had been planning to introduce a third turbine, which would increase the local supply by another 20 megawatts, thus boosting its total capacity to 80 MW. However, with the new turbine, the plant would require a supply of about 500,000 liters to produce the 80 MW. "The cut to industrial diesel, used exclusively to power the turbines in Gaza's power plant, mean longer and more frequent power outages for hospitals, water wells, and other humanitarian services, in blatant violation of international law," said Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, one of 10 NGOs that have petitioned against the fuel and electricity sanctions. According to Gisha, the new cuts will cause up to eight hours of daily blackouts. Gisha asked the High Court of Justice on Sunday to issue an interim injunction immediately, ordering the state to restore the level of industrial diesel imports to what it had been before the sanctions were imposed. Gisha had already asked the court to hear its protest against the second wave of fuel cuts. However, the court did not ask the state to respond to the latest protest until January 8 and did not impose an interim injunction in the meantime. As a result of the latest information from the Gaza Power Generating Company, Gisha asked the court to reconsider its decision.