The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, chaired by MK Amnon Cohen, approved for first reading the bill – amendment to the Planning and Zoning Law: Mandatory installation of solar systems on buildings without limitation on the number of stories.

The purpose of the bill is to address the gap that exists today in the law, which states that the mandatory installation of solar hot water supply applies only to residential buildings of up to nine stories. ”This restriction prevents multi-story residential homes from benefitting from solar energy,” the amendment states.

MK Zeev Bielski, one of the sponsors of the bill, said: ”In Israel today there are public buildings, residential buildings and many hotels that use only electricity for heating water. I believe that through this bill we can save energy more efficiently and take advantage of solar energy found in our country.” MK Bielski added that “if we act wisely, we can save not only money but a lot of electricity that we do not have.”

MK Dov Henin, also a sponsor of the bill, added: “The state of Israel became a country that builds up, which is good. We need to adapt our solutions according to the new situation.”

Representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Water, who were present at the hearing, expressed support for the bill, and said: ”In the past the technology was such that we could not recommend the use of solar energy for buildings taller than nine stories. Since then the technology has changed. We examined the issue, and we support the bill.” Amichai Drori, another ministry representative, added: ”For the citizen, the transition to solar energy saves about 1,000 NIS per year, just for the water heater`s power.”

During the discussions, there were also some objections to the bill, from the Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Justice: Amir Reshef from the Ministry of Finance said: ”We want to promote all energy savings, but we should remember that everything has economic consequences. Currently there is a problem with the bill, and we support the Department of Justice regulations currently forming, whereby solar energy will be provided for the seven upper floors in the building only.”

Attorney Carmit Iolis of the Ministry of Justice said that the arrangement in the bill is very specific, and is not suitable for primary legislation. ”Regulations are the natural lodge for an arrangement. The bill is extreme, and says to install systems on all types of buildings, and the regulations take into account further considerations,” Attorney Iolis said.

MK Amnon Cohen, chairman of the committee, summarized the discussion and said: ”We ask all parties to continue to do administrative work, and perform studies until further legislation and preparation for second and third readings. The committee will now seek legal advice, to soften the bill. I think bill is worthy and good.”