Israel Electric Corporation Warns: Scheduled Blackouts Likely in July, August

Power cuts likely during afternoon when consumption peaks.

The Israel Electric Corporation on Monday warned consumers and businesses of a summer of blackouts, particularly during the peak hours between noon and 5 P.M. when electricity consumption will approach the system's capacity levels.

"It is reasonable to assume that the Electric Corporation will be forced to make power cuts from time to time in selected locations for periods of time running about an hour and occasionally even longer than that," said Asher Dahan, the utility's deputy CEO for customer service.

"The length of these power cuts will depend on the extent of the power shortage."

Dahan stressed that the scheduled blackouts, which will occur during July and August, are intended only to keep the network functioning.

In addition to their monthly bills, consumers will also be getting brochures in the mail during the two months with suggestions on how to reduce electrical consumption and what to do during a blackout.

Among other things, the Electric Corporation recommends buying home generators and ensuring that in buildings with elevators, emergency back-up power supplies are working. Likewise, people using critical medical devices at home should ensure they have a back-up power supply.

The utility is also requesting customers not to call its 103 hotline to get information on scheduled blackouts and to use it only in case of an actual breakdown or safety concerns.

Israel Electric has been struggling with a shortage of gas to power its generators since Egyptian supplies were cut off last year, and because its power-generating capacity is being pushed to the limit this summer when electricity consumption is particularly high.

To deal with the expected power shortages, the cabinet approved a plan in May that includes eliminating restrictions on use of heavily-polluting fuel oil for electricity generation, including the use of fuel oil at Tel Aviv's Reading power station, which overlooks Israel's largest metropolitan area.

Israel Electric has also extended the deadline for registering with its "Save and Profit" program to July 15.

zUnder the program, consumers are entitled to discounts of 10% on their electricity bills if they reduce consumption by 15% to 20% compared with the same time a year earlier. The discount grows to 20% if they reduce consumption by 20% to 30% from a year earlier.

To date, some 170,000 consumers have signed up for the program. Kibbutzim and other bodies that allocate electricity to others can register for the program in the name of their users. Registration can be done through the Israel Electric Corporation's website.