Final IEC Report to Blame CEO for Failures

Managerial failure, a system failure and a multi-year planning failure in the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) caused the two-day blackouts on June 4 and 5. This is one of the findings in the report released by the committee appointed by Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.

The report, the details of which are being revealed here first, castigates IEC CEO Uri Bin-Nun, who reacted complacently and arrogantly to the power cuts, and even said, "Israelis are spoiled."

"The CEO's demeanor did not fall in line with the emergency at hand, disrupting the function [of other workers] during the crisis," the report states.

On Tuesday, June 6, immediately after the series of power cuts and breakdowns, Bin-Nun said the IEC was not to blame. But the committee finds otherwise. It states that "the CEO [should] draw the required conclusions from the severe findings detailed in the report regarding the company's function and act to correct the flaws to prevent recurring incidents in the future."

According to the committee, due to the "business as usual" attitude in the company's top management, "the air of crisis failed to penetrate downward and quite senior officials did not even know of the power cuts."

Several managerial dysfunctions caused the low power supply last month, including belated maintenance works, shutting down Reading station after failing to convert it to gas, renovations in the Gezer power station and failure to operate the Alon-Tavor station.

Therefore, the moment a few unexpected disorders occurred, the system collapsed, the report says.

The committee did not find "malicious acts" but stressed that in the past three years development had been held up and completed power stations had not begun operating.

The 39-page report says the maintenance standard in IEC was inferior and too slow. Apparently, in those two days, worse breakdowns than usual occurred, totalling 1,300 Megawatts - four times the malfunctions on an ordinary day. Some of them could have been avoided, had the proper maintenance been carried out on time. But preventive maintenance had not been carried out on time, despite's the management's knowledge at the beginning of 2006 of the expected power shortage in the summer.

The Israel Meteorological Service warned the IEC on Wednesday May 31 of an expected heat wave, but the IEC made no preparations for it at all.

The report also blames the Infrastructures Ministry for not implementing the development plans, delayed for three years, in time.

Had the new power stations Alon-Tavor and Gezer - both of which were ready - started operating in the last six months, the power cuts would have been avoided, the report states.

In addition, the IEC failed to regulate the power demand, which could have prevented the dysfunctions, and did not operate 734 generators placed in large plants.

The IEC "failed to warn the public in advance of the expected power cuts and its 103 hotline could not provide adequate response to the public's calls," the report says.

"In media interviews IEC officials did not display empathy and sensitivity to the public suffering from the power cuts, and portrayed the company in an unprofessional manner, without a clear, uniform message," the report concludes.