United Torah Judaism MKs seek to establish small private power stations in Haredi cities and neighborhoods, which would be cut off from the national grid on Saturdays, Yedioth Aharonoth reported Sunday, suggesting the additional costs would be added to the electricity bill paid by the general public.
According to Yedioth, the new program of the Shabbat Energy Affairs Committee, composed of ultra-Orthodox activists, is promoting the plan in coordination with Knesset members from United Torah Judaism, including the Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee MK Moshe Gafni, and Chairman of the Science Committee MK Uri Maklev. Both are interested in bringing the plan to ministerial legislative committee for approval.
Chairman of the Knesset Committee for Public Inquiries MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) responded to a JewishPress.com inquiry saying that he has been working for years to automate the production and transmission of electricity to prevent the desecration of Shabbat and reduce the costs to the consumer. Eichler claimed that only the enemies of Judaism oppose any plan to prevent the desecration of Shabbat.
MK Eichler wrote that he has already proven that the plans to automate and privatize electricity generation would save precious manpower, most notably the unnecessary triple and quadruple “Saturday wages” paid out to employees. “The break-up and automation programs would only lower the cost to the consumer,” Eichler said.
“Perhaps this is the reason for the tendentious incitement against ‘kosher electricity,'” Eichler speculated, noting that “There is no more effective weapon in the State of Israel than the cynical incitement that suggests secular Israelis pay more because of the Shabbat-observing Jew.”
The Yedioth report concedes that the United Torah Judaism plan involves private investors, but notes that the Haredi committee’s proposal admits that the costs of creating the new power plants would come at the expense of the IEC and it customers, largely because the monopoly divides its costs evenly among all its consumers.
Yedioth quotes MK Maklev as saying that at the current situation the IEC incurs a 15% loss in serving Haredi customers, and perhaps using that amount to offset the regular loss would eventually benefit everybody.