HOME Legal Encounters Institute of Law holds legal encounter titled “Legal and Rights-Based Aspects of Enforcing Prepayment Electricity Meters in the Gaza Strip”

Institute of Law holds legal encounter titled “Legal and Rights-Based Aspects of Enforcing Prepayment Electricity Meters in the Gaza Strip”

Institute of Law holds legal encounter titled “Legal and Rights-Based Aspects of Enforcing Prepayment Electricity Meters in the Gaza Strip”

With the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Institute of Law at Birzeit University organized a legal encounter under the title “Legal and Rights-Based Aspects of Enforcing Prepayment Electricity Meters in the Gaza Strip.” Held on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, the encounter featured Mohammad Al-Telbani as main guest speaker. The event was attended by a number of human rights activists, lawyers and individuals from the general public.

Al-Telbani initiated his presentation with an in-depth explanation of the international and national protection to the Right to Electricity. He discussed the legal framework regulating the electricity service in Palestine, which comprises a number of laws and decisions, some of which are old and others are modern, such as Law No. 12 of 1995, which established the Palestinian Energy Authority and defined its tasks and functions. In addition to the General Electricity Law and the Renewable Energy Law, other examples include the Palestinian Local Authorities Law No. 1 of 1997, one of the first laws issued by the Palestinian Legislative Council. It defined the functions of the Local Government Units, including supplying citizens with electricity and setting prices within Ministry limits. Additionally, Al-Telbani noted that the main objective of the General Electricity Law of 2009 is to regulate and develop the electricity sector in Palestine and to encourage local and foreign investment in the sector to provide sufficient energy at the lowest prices by establishing the Palestinian Electricity Regulatory Council, a legal entity with financial and administrative independence. Established by a decision from the Council of Ministers, he maintained, the Palestinian Electricity Regulatory Council protects the rights of consumers and prevents forging monopolies.

Al-Telbani then talked about the reality of the electricity sector in the Gaza Strip. He explained that electricity is supplied from three sources: the Israeli lines, which provide up to 120 MW; the Egyptian lines, which have the capacity of 20 MW; and the Gaza Power Plant, a diesel-fired power station that was established in 1999 in the South of Gaza City and commenced operation in 2002. Al-Telbani also highlighted the problems facing the electricity sector in Gaza, such as the insufficiency of energy supply to match the level of demand, the lack of development in the electricity sector and the decadence of the electricity infrastructure despite a 7% growth in electricity consumption due to the expansion of population as well as commercial projects in Gaza. He added that, for the past 17 years, the electricity sector has been operating according to a very restricted power supply schedule, while undergoing increasing hours of power cuts.

At the end of his intervention, Al-Telbani discussed different aspects of the installment of prepayment electricity meters in Gaza. He explained that, as an alternative to old traditional meters, these smart meters were installed by the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation for tens of thousands of families in the Gaza strip under the protection of the police. Despite a strong disapproval from the public, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation continues to install these meters across various areas and neighborhoods in Gaza. These new procedures raise a number of issues and challenges that violate individual rights but, at the same time, achieve some benefits, including reducing electricity waste by obliging citizens to conserve electricity and enhancing the financial capacity of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation.

It also solves the longstanding issue of a significant portion of the public defaulting on electricity bills.

The legal encounter concluded with an open discussion that featured many interventions and recommendations, including the necessity of transparency in the electricity field; the necessity of curbing atmospheres that encourage monopolies, conflicts of interest and coercive measures in view of the lack of series attempts to match the increasing electricity demand; and the significance of pursuing comprehensive development that aligns with the citizen needs. This includes ensuring equal access to electricity to all citizens and safeguarding their basic rights in light of the absence of social justice and the deteriorating living conditions of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families in Gaza.