Electricity Authority Head Is Dismissed

But in final act, Orit Farkash-HaCohen approves 6-8% cut in power rates.

Orit Farkash-Hacohen

Orit Farkash-HaCohen, who chairs Israel’s Electricity Authority, became the second official to fall victim in the fight over the natural gas framework, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered her dismissal late on Wednesday.

Netanyahu overrode the objections of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Amir Levy, the head of the treasury’s budgets division and Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht in making the decision. But he had the backing of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who will name a successor within 14 days.

Farkash-HaCohen has been a high-profile opponent of the so-called framework agreement the government reached with the natural gas cartel, which would set the terms for how much of Israel’s reserves the two big energy companies, Israel’s Delek Group and Texas-based Noble Energy, can control.

In May, Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo – who also opposed the terms of the framework, saying they didn’t do enough to break the cartel’s control – said he would step down.

Yesterday, the Electricity Authority approved a 6%-8% reduction in electricity rates from next month, subject to hearings. The authority cited the falling price of world coal in recent months, not lower gas prices.

The cut will be the second this year, bringing total reductions to 17%.