11/24/2011 03:10

Landau likens plan to affirmative action, but Palestinians critical of “Israeli-only” program.
Talkbacks (2)

The National Infrastructure Ministry has completed its process of adopting regulations for medium-sized solar fields in Judea and Samaria, and residents will be able to begin submitting applications to build fields shortly, the ministry said Tuesday.

“The injustice has been repaired – electricity generation from solar energy is also for residents of Judea and Samaria,” said National Infrastructure Minister Dr. Uzi Landau in a statement.

Knesset Speaker takes a spin in solar-powered
Ketura Sun gets first license for medium solar field

During the past few days, the ministry finished creating regulations for the installation of medium- sized photovoltaic fields, which will occur in conjunction with the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria – the governing body for the region. Securing this right for the Judean and Samarian residents were part of the “uncompromising terms” set forth by Landau when voting on amendments to the country’s renewable energy policies in July, according to the ministry.

While erecting small-sized rooftop panels in the region was authorized about a year ago, building medium-sized facilities has been essentially impossible up until now, as doing so would require going through a complex and unique process with the civil administration, the ministry explained.

In mid-July, however, the cabinet approved a plan to overhaul Israel’s entire renewable-energy system, in which residents of Judea and Samaria would receive 10 percent of the current nationwide 300-megawatt allocation for medium-sized solar fields, as well as 10 percent of the new allocations in other types of renewable energy.

The new regulations included a quota of 460 megawatts for large solar fields – which had been zero before, but still lacks any regulations nationwide – as well as an additional 110 megawatts to the currently maxed-out cap of small solar rooftop panels – 20 to be added in 2011, 30 in 2012, 30 in 2013 and 30 in 2014.

Outside of the solar industry, the regulations added 800 megawatts for wind power and 210 for biofuels.

At the time, Landau likened the specific slice for the Judea and Samaria region to “affirmative action.”

“Publishing the current regulation is a correction to the injustice that prevented Judea and Samaria residents from taking part in an effort to achieve a vision of green roofs for the production of clean solar energy that is sold to the Electricity Authority,” Landau said in a statement.

Anyone with Israeli citizenship – Jewish, Arab or anything else – can make use of the newly allocated quotas to Judea and Samaria, but virtually all of the region’s Israeli citizens are Jews. This fact irked Hanna Siniora, co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, who had told The Jerusalem Post in July that Palestinians without Israeli citizenship should have access to the quotas, since they buy electricity from Israel.

For the group Green Yesha, however, a renewable energies advocacy team in Judea and Samaria, the adoption of official regulations for medium fields is a huge achievement.

“We are happy that it happened,” Adi Mintz, CEO of Green Yesha, a member of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip and a resident of the settlement Dolev, told the Post on Tuesday. “We waited so much for this regulation and we intend to make all the needed effort to act on it – to send the applications to the Administration and to build solar farms in Judea and Samaria.”

Mintz said his group already has applications for several fields prepared to submit to the civil administration, and he is uncertain whether other groups also intend to submit requests. The Green Yesha fields will be financed by Amana, a large Judea and Samara financing company, and are intended to be within Jordan Valley communities, as well as other places, according to Mintz.

“In 30 days from now we can give the applications to the civil administration, but it will take time to get the tariffs,” he said.

“They have to calculate and review all the applications and then they will give an interim license. It’s a process, but the same process as all the other solar farms in Israel.”

While others involved in the solar industry support the effort to make renewable energy accessible to all citizens, they expressed concern about the limitations imposed by the current quotas all over Israel.

“The sun doesn’t recognize any boundaries, so a vision of a solarpowered Middle East should be embraced by everyone regardless of present or future boundaries,” MK Einat Wilf, a staunch supporter of solar energy, told the Post. “It is important, however, not to politicize solar power in any way, or to cap it. This is yet another reason Israel should lift the modest caps on solar power.”

Meanwhile, the president of Arava Power, the company responsible for launching Israel’s first medium-sized solar field, said that the “affirmative action” model used to bring solar energy to Judea and Samaria should be extended to the country’s Beduin population.

“The notion of an affirmative action carved out of 30 megawatts of solar power should also be applied to the Beduin citizens of Israel, who have been at a disadvantage in the licensing process due to the complexity of land rights,” said Arava president Yosef Abramowitz. “Such a move will be welcomed in the name of social justice, equal opportunity and advancing the south as a renewable area zone. If no affirmative action is taken, Beduin participation in the solar opportunity will be close to nonexistent.”