Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz is pledging to do his utmost to promote renewable energy in Israel and to ensure that power produced via fossil fuels be as clean as possible. He made the comments at a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference for Industry, on April 10, 2014. The conference was focused on net metering regulation, which will allow industrial facilities to produce electricity via renewable energy for their own consumption, which will leave more power for the grid and reduce costs for the facilities.
Peretz also stressed his opposition to recommendations made by the Yogev Committee, which is looking into restructuring Israel’s electricity market. Among the recommendations the committee made were to re-evaluate the Israel Electric Company (IEC)’s obligation to install scrubbers in old power plants and to re-evaluate a 2011 decision that two new electricity generating units at Ashkelon’s Rutenberg power plant run on natural gas, instead of polluting coal, as well as a decision to convert the coal-fired Orot Rabin plant near Hadera to natural gas.
These recommendations, Peretz warned, will lead to a sharp increase in air pollution. He said he has written a strongly-worded letter to the prime minister noting his opposition to the committee’s recommendations. In addition, he said, he has reminded the IEC that as head of the MoEP, he is still the one authorized to grant air emissions and poison permits. If the IEC decides to act in accordance with the Yogev recommendations, instead of the scrubbers program that has already been agreed to by the government, "it may find itself in a very embarrassing situation," said Peretz.
The minister also noted that according to the Yogev Committee, only 5.9% of Israel’s electricity will come from renewable. This is in opposition to two government decisions (No. 4450 from January 2009 and No. 3484 from 2011) that 10% of electricity will be produced by renewable energy sources by 2020.
Peretz: "It is [the MoEP’s] obligation to make every effort to bring renewables into the system… the target set by the government is a reasonable one, but it is not final and I am certain that renewable energy activities in Israel will only get stronger."