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Peres at cornerstone ceremony for new power plant 370.(Photo by: Eli Amzaleg)
Foundations laid for largest private power station
The 870-megawatt natural gas power station will be located near Kibbutz Kfar Menahem at Tzafit.
In the cool breeze of the southern Shfela’s green and yellow fields, energy developers laid the cornerstone for what will become Israel’s largest private power station on Monday night.

The 870-megawatt natural gas power station is the project of Israeli firm Dalia Power Energies and will be located near Kibbutz Kfar Menahem at Tzafit, where the Israel Electric Corporation operates another power station.

Slated to be fully completed and connected to the grid in summer 2015, the future power station is expected to supply between 6 and 7 percent of Israel’s electricity needs.

Operating and maintaining the site will be the French firm Alstom, which will be providing two combined cycle natural gas units to the site, each with a 435-megawatt capacity.

Both live and animated dancers opened Monday night’s ceremony with a movie-like soundtrack in the background, gesturing toward panoramic images of the future site and electrified cartoons demonstrating the project’s vision.

“I wish you all that this power station will be another escalation in the development of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres at the ceremony.

The station will be located on agricultural land that belongs to the Mevo Betar village of Yoav Regional Council, steps north of the existing IEC station.

The location was selected, according to the company, after comprehensive environmental surveys, archeological assessments and other examinations of three alternatives besides Tzafit – Hagit, Mevo Carmel and Gat.

Tzafit, which is located in close proximity to a gas line and an electrical conduction system, was ultimately selected by the National Infrastructures Planning Committee as the most suitable of the four options, company information said.

While Dalia will become the largest private facility in the country, it will not be the first to come online. Israel’s first large private power station, the 440-megawatt OPC Rotem plant near Dimona, is scheduled to be complete by July. Meanwhile, a few of the turbines at the eventually 812- megawatt Dorad private power facility in Ashkelon may also be ready in August.

The Dalia and Alstom developers were the first to submit plans for a private power facility, but because a large chunk of the electricity from the plant is supposed to be sold to the IEC, the planning process took much longer, a spokeswoman for the group said.

OPC and Dorad in the end will also be selling some electricity to the IEC following recent negotiations, but the amounts will be comparatively small, she explained.

The additional electricity generated by the private power suppliers will be critical to making proper use of the country’s natural gas supply and to maximizing the electricity reserve during the hot summer months, IEC officials told The Jerusalem Post in April.

Shaul Zemach, director-general of the Energy and Water Ministry, praised the entrepreneurs behind the Dalia site as “trailblazers,” stressing that they will be contributing to the quality of life in Israel.

They succeeded in achieving “a vision of integrating private entrepreneurialism within the complicated fabric of the energy economy,” he said.

“This will bring a breakthrough with additional entrepreneurs who will hopefully take part, and hopefully the processes will be easier and simpler,” Zemach continued.

With the early private power entrepreneurs in Israel, including those at Dalia and Alstom, the foundations for policy and planning in this sector have successfully been laid, he added.

The introduction of private power plants into Israel’s electricity sector is expected to reduce prices as the existing monopoly in the industry decreases.

“At long last competition will open and prices will go down,” said Eitan Meir, CEO of Dalia Power Energies.

Both in terms of financial and energy security, the private plants are “contributing a lot to the State of Israel,” Daniel Dreier, project director for Alstom, told the Post before the ceremony.

“It should secure the stability of the network here in Israel regarding electricity,” he said.

Dreier said he sees the Israel electricity front as “a very promising market” with remarkable potential and a bright future.

“This is not just one of the private power plants we are currently executing,” added Patrick Kron, CEO of Alstom global. “It’s very special, first of all because it’s in Israel.”

Mati Tsarfati Harkabi, chairwoman of Yoav Regional Council, assured that there would be no noxious emissions emanating from the future site.

As the head of the region where David beat Goliath, where the Philistines fought and so many other biblical events occurred, she hailed the project as an economic and social drive for the region.

“It’s our responsibility to watch out for the people and visitors in this area,” Tsarfati Harkabi said.

Peres praised the Dalia and Alstom team for their commitments to generating electricity without polluting unnecessarily and “without violating the balance on planet Earth.”

The success here at Tzafit, he added, is a testament to Israel’s strength in moving forward with far-reaching scientific endeavors.

“This economy is based and founded on science that soars with its possibilities,” Peres said.
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