By SHARON UDASIN 01/25/2012 14:49
An approval would allow for the development of an 8-megawatt solar field on land owned by the Beduin Tarabin family.
Solar panels By courtesy of AORA

The Public Utility Authority on Tuesday put off a decision on whether to grant a production license for the first medium- sized solar field on Beduin land – the second such delay to occur in the past two weeks.

An approval of the license would allow for the development of an 8-megawatt, 15- hectare (37-acre) solar field by Arava Power Company on land owned by the Beduin Tarabin family. Arava, the same company responsible for opening the country’s first medium-sized solar field at Kibbutz Ketura in June, signed a contract with the Tarabin family a year-and-a-half ago to build the field, the first such contract to be made between a solar production company and Beduin community members, according to the firm. Eighty percent of the funds for the project are slated to come from OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation), an independent United States government agency.

If approved, the license would bring the Negev minority population a unique opportunity for economic prosperity, according to Arava Power. However, as the PUA continues to postpone its decision about the Tarabin family license, more and more of the government’s 300- megawatt allocation for medium- sized fields are being claimed, the company stressed.

“This continuous delay puts Israel in a negative light with the American administration, which committed to financing Israel’s first Beduin solar field,” Arava Power president Yosef Abramowitz said. “Every delay also puts the Tarabin license application at a greater disadvantage vis-a-vis Jewish licenses, since there is a very limited cap on the first-come, first-serve solar program.”

The Tarabin family is looking forward to receiving a license immediately, Abramowitz said.

“Justice and equality for the Beduin in the solar program will only come about by creating a reserve cap for Beduin solar fields,” he said.

The PUA said it is doing its utmost to confirm solar installations that are on the standard that are set by it. The PUA did discuss the Tarabin family’s solar license last week and is expected to discuss it again soon, a spokesman said.