Historic Achievement - 380,000 Households will be Protected From Power Cuts
Following our victory in the High Court and the ruling that stated that the right to electricity is a constitutional right that is closely related to the rights to dignity, life, and health, the Electricity Authority revised the standards for power cuts. The new standards state, among other things, that 380 thousand households will be protected from electricity cuts due to difficult economic or medical circumstances. This is about 1,250,000 people—ten times the number we have had until today.
Last January, the High Court of Justice accepted ACRI’s petition, which was submitted in cooperation with the Human Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Israel Union of Social Workers, regarding the policy of power cuts. The ruling opened with the following words: "And let there be light" and stated that the right to electricity is a constitutional right that is closely related to the rights to dignity, health, and life. Following the ruling, the Electricity Authority formulated new rules regarding debt-related electricity disconnections after receiving many of our comments and suggestions to expand the population groups protected from disconnection.
Despite the significant improvement, there are still issues with the revised standards; the threshold conditions make it difficult for some of those who need protection from disconnection to receive it. Thus, for example, it was determined that some of the most impoverished benefit recipients will be protected from electricity disconnection only after a six-month qualification period, and that those who need confirmation of their financial situation can only get it from an attorney at the Bureau of Social Services or a rehabilitation attorney, and must complete at least six months of treatment in the department. In addition, the Electricity Authority designated the local electric company with the authority to determine payment arrangements for impoverished debtors and permitted the operation of an Exceptions Committee, although there exists a structured conflict of interest between the electric company and the residents. Also, the Electricity Authority left the prepayment meter (PAM) as a means of collection. In our opinion (a position that the court did not accept), the use of PAM for debt collection is wrong, and we will continue to work to change this policy.
ACRI's attorney Maskit Bandel, who submitted the petition: "The standards seek to implement the historic High Court ruling. They encompass many situations of power cuts and provide protection against disconnection and installation of a power supply. Along with the important and happy news in their publication, we will continue to monitor the implementation and work to improve them in order to make sure that there will be no people living in the dark due to poverty.”