Israel Electric Corporation completely miscalculated the intensity of the storm that caused 60,000 customers to lose power. Based on summaries of situation meetings held by the CEO of the company the day before the storm, which have reached “Globes”, it seems that the company’s management was prepared for a standard storm. The storm damaged hundreds power lines, but the possibility of such extensive damage to the domestic power distribution system as a result of the expected snow did not come up in any of the estimates, and the possibility of a widespread damage to the electric infrastructure as a result of the storm was not addressed. Just hours before the worst storm to hit Jerusalem in 20 years - or 150 years, according to IEC - they were still talking about the “possibility of snow in Jerusalem,” and they estimated that the strong winds would subside by the following day. On the ground of this general optimism, IEC CEO Eli Glickman decided, according to the summary of the discussions, that he could leave the country, and hand over the management of the event to vice president Yakov Hain, because, “the matter appears to be under control.”
In a situation meeting held by the CEO by phone on Wednesday, December 11, at 11:30 am,Systems Management Unit Director Dov Strilovitch said that winds of up to 90 km/h were expected. On the basis of the forecasts for stormy seas, Senior Vice-President of Engineering Projects Itzhak Balmas ordered that measures should be taken to prepare to stop fueling the power station from the LNG ship anchored near Hadera, and to switch to diesel. No decisions were made to take any other significant measures in preparation for the storm. Four hours later, at 3:45 pm, the situation was assessed again, and, by then, a much grimmer picture emerged. VP Hain, who is responsible for the company’s customer division, reported that a large number of repairs were made to high-voltage power lines that caused, among other things, 3,000 customers to lose power in southern Israel. Hain also reported damage to the Savyon high-voltage power line, which supplies power to Kfar Shmaryahu and Tzahala, damage to two high-voltage power lines in Judea and Samaria, a mini-tornado in Ashdod, and problems with the 103 customer service hotline. He said that the Jerusalem division was preparing for the snow by working in two shifts. All the incidents were handled and repaired before the storm hit. In the third phone-situation-meeting, which took place at 7:30 pm, Hain reported 5,000 customers without power in the greater Tel Aviv area, and 13,000 in southern Israel, but in Jerusalem and in northern Israel, no particular problems were reported. Senior Vice President of Organization, Logistics, Security and Emergency Division Tzvi Harpak said that requests for increased manpower in Jerusalem and Ariel had been “fully answered.” Glickman summarized the matter, saying: “The matter appears to be under control,” and added that the focus of activity had moved from the production unit, which is responsible for operating the power stations, to the customer division, which is responsible for providing power to consumers. 48 hours after that meeting, the CEO returned, panicked, to Israel, and 2,000 IEC workers were rushed in to repair damage in Jerusalem, in the middle of the weekend, and at the height of the worst snowstorm to hit the city in the last 150 years.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 25, 2013
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