No clear reason why Transport Min. Regev objected to new power plants


A few days before power cuts hit about 300,000 Israelis the other weekend, the government convened to approve two new power plants: Kessem, next to Rosh Ha’ayin, and the expansion of the Dorad plant near Ashkelon. These are two of four plans for the construction of power plants presented to the government for approval, after considerable delays.

According to Noga — Israel Independent System Operator Ltd., which since November 2021 has replaced Israel Electric Corporation in managing the supply of electricity in Israel, by 2035, another eight power plants will be required to meet demand in Israel, and so far only five have been approved.

According to the forecasts, unless these power plants are built, power cuts will become routine Despite the looming crisis, Transport Minister Miri Regev, who was in Morocco at the time of the government meeting, submitted an apparently reasoned objection to the construction of the power plants.

In a letter to government ministers, she laid out her arguments against one specific power plant, which in fact was not ultimately approved by the government, namely the “Eastern” power plant, or “Project Reindeer”, as it is known, a gas-fueled power plant proposed by Reindeer Energy. The plan is for the construction of the plant near where roads 55 and 444 meet in the Sharon-Shomron area.

Despite Regev’s claims, roads won’t be impacted  

Regev’s objection to the plan is based on transportation considerations: the plant will prevent the widening of Road 55 “which is a main national lateral road, important for connecting Judea and Samaria to other parts of Israel”, and joining the road to Road 444 and Road 6.

View of the Orot Rabin Power Plant at Sadot Yam beach, central Israel. April 11, 2023. (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

In fact, however, there is no impediment to the widening of Road 55 and connecting it to Road 444. Furthermore, contrary to what Regev claims, not only is there no need to connect Road 55 to the Road 6 highway, but the Transport Ministry itself has expressed professional objections to doing so because Road 6 is a longitudinal highway not intended for regional traffic, because there are other interchanges close by that lead to it, and on safety and efficiency grounds.

Project Reindeer was intended to provide some 1,300 megawatts on a site in the area of the Southern Sharon Regional Council. This is more than 12% of expected consumption in the forecast peak year of 2030. In the absence of new power plants, Israel is liable to find itself in a real energy crisis. If Regev’s professional reasons are incorrect, it remains to ask whether there is some political motive for her objections.

In response to a request for comment, a statement on Regev’s behalf reiterated the claims raised in the government meeting and did not address the points raised in the report.