Reading power station may use dirty fuel oil to head off blackouts.
Reading power station may use dirty fuel oil to head off blackouts. Photo by Guy Raivitz
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The cabinet approved a plan on Sunday to deal with the power shortages expected this summer, when demand for electricity is high. The plan includes eliminating limitations imposed on the Israel Electric Corp. on using polluting heavy fuel oil for electricity generation, including fuel oil use in the middle of Israel's largest metropolitan area at Tel Aviv's Reading power station.

It was also decided to consider involving Israel Defense Force bases in special arrangements that currently exists with some industrial concerns to manage their electricity consumption at peak periods. The cabinet also discussed a proposal to purchase special mobile turbines for electricity generation.

The cabinet resolution did not set criteria for rolling blackouts, if they will be necessary this summer due to demand that exceeds available supply. The Justice Ministry had objected to such criteria being set by the cabinet, saying such terms should be set in legislation passed by the Knesset.

It was agreed that an interministerial committee will be set up to deal with the prospect of electricity shortages.

The chairman of the Knesset's Joint Committee for Health and the Environment, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), took the cabinet to task for allowing the use of heavy fuel oil again, saying that prior curbs on its use was one of the major environmental accomplishments of the past.

For his part, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud ) suggested that every rolling blackout in Israel be accompanied by a similar cut to power in the Gaza Strip, but the cabinet declined to include the provision.