Kendall Wigoda

Calling all electricity experts

When it comes to innovation and technological progress, Israel has one of the best track records in the world. Its achievements are remarkable. There’s a regular social media message that resurfaces every few years citing all of Israel’s technology advances and pointing out that the world would probably be stuck in the 1950s without Israeli innovation. Israel has more Nobel Prizes per capita than the United States, France and Germany, 40,000+ millionaires and 71 billionaires. We’ve desalinated ocean water; we’ve turned the desert into farmland; and invented delicious cherry tomatoes to grow there.

So here’s the $64,000 question: With all this sophisticated technological and scientific know-how in our tiny country, why can’t someone figure out how to keep the electrical grid up and running during a winter rain storm?

We aren’t talking about during the worst storms the world has ever seen – no super typhoons, no deaths reported, no homes destroyed, and no overflowing and out-of-control bodies of water. Just plain, old, heavy rain with some nasty wind to keep it interesting.

There must be someone among Israel’s 9.65 million residents who knows something about electrical grid stability. A very quick and superficial Google search provides the following information:

“It’s simple: there needs to be a balance in production and consumption within an electrical grid. For there to be stability, the energy generated must be equal to the energy consumed.” 

That sounds pretty straightforward. What goes in must also go out. Not exactly a novel idea.

If the average person with a computer can run a quick search and collect this much information in a few seconds, just imagine what an electrical grid expert could do in one day.  Preferably a sunny day when the electricity is flowing smoothly and the internet is working.

In its March 2019 edition Forbes Magazine asked the same question about stable electricity. And, in the end, the answer was … you guessed it … grid stabilization. The author of one article, award-winning journalist Russ Banham, went so far as to explain how to reduce the problem:

“Microgrids manage to address current grid constraints by circumventing them altogether. When outages require repairs to the larger central system, secondary grids can operate on their own using local energy generation…”

There you have it: microgrids. The article even gives a link if you wish to speak to Mr. Banham. Perhaps someone from the Israel Electric Company should call him. Just a suggestion. No pressure, but perhaps if the IEC could get on this before the next rain storm, it would save a lot of people from an unnecessary down day. It’s difficult to get much work done by candlelight, with a pad of lined paper and a ballpoint pen, and without internet access in a cold apartment. We are way too spoiled to go back to those days.

Apparently technology savvy people just establish hotspots on their phones to avoid internet interruption issues altogether but that presumes one knows what a hotspot is and how to get one. Not the strong suit of the over-50 crowd.

It’s unfathomable that with all of this country’s impressive technological achievements the first sign of strenuous rain brings us to our knees. As residents, we need to designate someone to call the IEC and then sit by the phone waiting for Customer Service to respond. That could take hours on the best of days. It’s not clear what they are doing when they should be answering the phone but it definitely does not include improving the grid.

Most of us small-time, computer-dependent people can’t do it because we are busy figuring out what hotspots are and doing the background research that experts should have done ages ago.

Any volunteers?

About the Author
I spent 15 years as a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional in Canada before making Aliyah in 2002. Since then I have written freelance articles for Israeli newspapers, written lots of marketing communication pieces and taught a lot of English. Sometimes life here is funny and sometimes it is sad, but mostly there's a lot of weird and wonderful moments.
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