Electricity Agency Loses Independence

Electricity Authority to be dismantled and merged with National Infrastructure and Energy Ministry, current chair to be sacked.

Tomer Noyberg

After a stormy Knesset committee debate on a planned reform of the Electricity Authority, the Finance Ministry and other government officials ultimately acceded nearly completely to the position of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz and the Israel Electric Corporation on the plan.

They decided that the chairwoman of the Electricity Authority, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and the two public representatives on the authority’s plenum would be dismissed within two months. The Electricity Authority is to be dismantled, it was decided, and merged into the National Infrastructure and Energy Ministry, and come under the full purview of Steinitz as minister, with Steinitz appointing a new chairperson for the authority.

The provisions calling for the dismissal of the Electricity Authority officials had been a source of uneasiness in recent months at the finance and justice ministries and at the Civil Service Commission, in light of the contention that their inclusion in the Economic Arrangements bill – legislation that accompanies the budget – cannot be used to dismiss officials in this way, and that a new chairman cannot be appointed without a public tender process.

Nonetheless it was decided that Steinitz alone will appoint the new chairman of the authority by January 1, after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon decided to forgo the opportunity to be involved in the selection process.