Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni / Flash 90
An IEC worker technician repairing a fault in the Israeli electricity network. August 29, 2020

As Israel experiences a spell of unusually cold weather with temperatures dipping to below freezing in many areas, the national power grid is being taxed by all of the extra electricity needed for the use of numerous space heaters and central heating systems.

Unfortunately, the added strain is causing many people in Israel’s Arab communities to suffer through power outages that are apparently the result of their own reckless behavior.

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The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), a public and government-owned company that provides and applies electricity to all sectors in the country, has reported that in the last day in some Arab towns there have been a number of disruptions in the supply of electricity. These disruptions came as a result of localized complications stemming from the increased use of electricity due to the cold weather.

However, the IEC also reports that when its personnel went to the affected areas in Arab communities in response to public reports of outages to repair any damage, they found that the problems actually resulted from ad hoc and unauthorized connections to the power grid. The IEC has explained that these connections create abnormal loads on the local electric grids which result in short circuits and damage to infrastructure.

In many cases, crews were called in to an area, performed the necessary repairs, and then, just a few hours later, were called on again to handle the same problems in the same areas.

If more than one home, or structure, in a given area covered by the electric grid, is using unauthorized connections to it, then anyone could cause a local power outage to the entire area due to faulty and unprofessional work done by whoever set it up. If the one that caused the damage is removed, at times like these, with increased power usage, another could soon afterward cause the same problem. Or the first one may have been reconnected.

The power company, however, did not provide any details as to where in Israel it has been discovering such problems.

Earlier this month, Israel’s coalition government approved an amendment to the Construction Law that enables the connection of tens of thousands of illegal structures built by Bedouins and Arabs in the Negev and the north to the national electricity grid. This might help alleviate some of these problems.

Oren Hellman, VP of Service and Regulation at IEC, said that these incidents serve to strengthen the position of the power company that all such unauthorized connections to the electric grid should be regulated. He said that this would reduce the “enormous resources that are expended in maintenance in places where such damage cannot really be prevented [due to the illegal connections].”

“It is clear that IEC employees make and will continue to make every effort to maintain the continuity of power supply to all customers,” he added, “and yet it is important to understand that even customers who are regularly connected to electricity in these areas feel the disruptions when damage is caused in those areas.”

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