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Someone cut off the flow: who is to blame for the power failure? - Voila! money


Highlights: Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens were forced to spend the scorching hours of Fridays without electricity. Israel Electric Corporation CEO Meir Spiegler was in the line of fire, literally, when part of Israel's electricity production system collapsed. Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yisrael Katz was quick to blame the previous government. But it is hard to blame a government that has served less than a year and a half of responsibility for an issue that requires years of planning and investment, writes Yossi Abwithout.

Who is responsible for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens were forced to spend the scorching hours of Fridays without electricity? Is this the last time – and who can rescue the energy sector from the crisis?

The nightmare of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens on Friday is expected to return throughout the summer. Infrastructure of a third world country? (Photo: ShutterStock)

Meir Spiegler, CEO of the Israel Electric Corporation, was in the line of fire, literally, last Friday when part of Israel's electricity production system collapsed in light of record demand created by the heat. Soon we will return to Spiegler, but first we will try to find out who is to blame for the omission.

For those who were forced to spend hours in the scorching heat, which in some parts of the country exceeded 40 degrees, without air conditioning, a fan (and as the hours passed, in some cases even without a cell phone battery, in order to be informed when the end of the event is expected), this is an unpleasant experience, to say the least, it is doubtful whether they will be comforted by the knowledge that if this had happened on a regular working day and not on Friday (when a large part of the business-industrial sector is shut down), We would have expected greater damage, both during the break hours and at the economic level, since the economy would have lost hundreds of millions of shekels more (the cost of the current cessation is "only" NIS 100-200 million).

The investment fund manager who predicted the power outage last week

Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yisrael Katz was quick to blame the previous government. The accusation is not unfounded, Abwithout tells the whole story (Photo: Reuven Castro)

The government is to blame

Who is responsible for the omission? Like everything in Israel, it is divided into three: the level of infrastructure, the level of management, and the level of performance. At the infrastructure level, there seems to be little to expand: in recent years, the State of Israel has been operating with almost no investment in long-term projects.

Governments serve relatively short terms, and no minister wants his replacement to cut the ribbon on a project he initiated. Public servants – the managerial echelon of the ministries, which could have ensured at least conceptual continuity between ministers, is replaced with each new minister "positions of trust" call for the beheading ceremony intended only to appoint associates under the previous directors (just watch the massacre caused by Miri Regev at the Transportation Ministry, to understand that even ten years from now we will face traffic jams that will be much worse than those we are experiencing today).

When there is no continuity of government, no national project can move forward, because very quickly it will encounter a conflict of interest: the initiating ministry, let's say energy or transportation against the Ministry of the Environment, local government, etc., each of which wants to show a quick victory precisely in an area that requires planning for years.

Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yisrael Katz was quick to blame the previous government. He is only partially right – and not just because it is hard to blame a government that has served less than a year and a half of responsibility for an issue that requires years of planning and investment. If one wants to get caught up in Katz's accusation, it can be said that the previous government and former Energy Minister Karine Elharrar were also partners in the failure that began much earlier.

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Shaul Goldstein, CEO of Noga – the government company for managing the electricity sector, in his previous position as CEO of the Nature and Parks Authority. Does Noga take responsibility for the incident – and if so, what does that mean? (Photo: Shai-Li Uziel)

The management company is at fault

At the managerial level, there is Noga, the government company designed to manage the electricity sector in Israel. How it manages it - hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens could feel their flesh on Friday.

Noga was quick to "take responsibility" for the omission, but it's a little hard to know what the term means. As far as I could see this morning on the company's website, CEO Shaul Goldstein, in his previous positions CEO of the Nature and Parks Authority and head of the Gush Etzion Council, is still sitting in his chair, as are the deputy directors who serve under him. That's how it is in Israel: you take responsibility from the outside, but from the inside everyone laughs on the way to the next job.

In her defense, Noga argues that even if her management was exemplary (and as mentioned above, it was not), the big problems (planning long-term energy infrastructure projects, as written above) are outside her ability to influence – and so is everything related to execution on the ground, that of the Israel Electric Corporation.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman writes a special chapter on the Israel Electric Corporation every year. So what? (Photo: PR)

The electric company is to blame

A book could have been written about what was happening at the Israel Electric Corporation. In fact - more than one has already been written, the book is called "The State Comptroller's Report" - you may have heard, because nowhere else have they heard of it. It creates a storm the moment it is published—and except where it leads to criminal investigation, it is neglected.

Thus, for example, the regular part in which the IEC is negligent and delays in carrying out projects in its field, such as converting production units from polluting and expensive coal to cheap and much less polluting natural gas.

Many readers probably shrug their shoulders now and say, "Oh well, the Israel Electric Corporation," knowing that there are bodies (committees) that are stronger than any minister or official who tries to make things more efficient.

Meir Spiegler, CEO of the Israel Electric Corporation. He was supposed to do to the electric company what he did to the National Insurance Institute. Is it broken? (Photo: Reuven Castro)

Who can prevent the next power outage?

We also share this view in a great way, except for one reservation, which is also under "reservation of reservation": Meir Spiegler. Spiegler, a relatively new appointment to the position of CEO of the Israel Electric Corporation, was in recent years prior to his appointment, Director General of the National Insurance Institute. Another monopoly with no competitors in its field. Amazingly, Spiegler succeeded in reengineering the archaic institution and led a revolution that began and ended with the citizen becoming a customer, that is, someone who should serve instead of abusing him.

You wouldn't believe it, but it worked. In other words, there is still a long way to go to light in the National Insurance Institute, but it is hard to compare to the situation that prevailed in this organization until before Spiegler got involved.

Spiegler could have been the right man in the right place. We will explain shortly, but first we will mention the two bodies that precede the Israel Electric Corporation:

The State of Israel must provide long-term solutions and hasten the approval of national projects in the field of energy infrastructure - (Kadima Yisrael Katz, this could be your finest hour, precisely against the background of a government that is deteriorating the State of Israel towards the Third World).

Noga, for her part, must also manage better – as the cliché goes: "You only have one job" – at least do it properly, so as not to be forced to "take responsibility" empty.

But on the ground, immediately, Spiegler could have made quick progress in resolving disputes with entities that are supposed to upgrade the infrastructure, fewer bureaucratic barriers in connecting the electricity infrastructure to private suppliers, promoting collaborations with companies that have energy storage technologies, and more.

It is true that this is not a permanent solution to the problem, but perhaps Spiegler would have managed to achieve at least a "fixation" of the fracture, until a surgeon is found to operate on it. The problem is only that Spiegler has also been broken: at first he backed the IEC in light of the comptroller's report (it was logical, you have to gain the trust of the "field"), but lately, it seems, he is groping his way back to his previous job – that is, despairing of the possibility that he can beat the mechanism.

In the meantime, he is busy explaining to everyone that the electric company is only the executive echelon – and had it received better instructions, the power outage would have been avoided. It is right and misleading at the same time. He is right at the level of point failure, wrong when he paints the problems in Israel's electricity production system in technical colors only.

In any case, if Spiegler fails and leaves, it will be proof that the Israel Electric Corporation is indeed stronger than the State of Israel – a very difficult herald for anyone hoping to take a Friday afternoon nap – between now and the end of summer (and for the next two years).

  • money
  • All articles


  • electricity
  • Outage
  • energy
  • Israel Katz
  • Meir Spiegler
  • Israel Electric Corporation

Source: walla

All business articles on 2023-06-04

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