A recent increase in fuel in the Gaza Strip has improved access to electricity. The mild weather has also played a part in bettering conditions, as residents are consuming less electricity and are therefore relieving pressure on the electricity infrastructure. The chronic shortages of electricity still exist, however, and a lasting end to the crisis must be found soon. A temporary and limited response may be found in the use of smart meters, which allow for control of the electricity supply, and would offer residents respite until the crisis is fully alleviated, according to Al Mezan and experts.
In October 2018, Al Mezan issued a fact sheet on the electricity crisis, which proposed a number of short-term solutions, including smart meters to alleviate the crisis. The proposals were made during an expert discussion hosted by Al Mezan around the same time. Al Mezan’s current research shows that the cost of installing smart meters in homes could be a few million USD, but would result in much more in savings and would help secure longer access to electricity. Al Mezan was encouraged by the confirmation from experts in the meeting that such a solution would be both feasible and effective in Gaza.
The recent increase in fuel supply is providing only limited, and likely temporary, increase to electricity generation. The Gaza Strip requires around 500 megawatts of electricity per day and less than half of this amount is currently met. Plus, when weather conditions prompt residents to use more electricity, the crisis will worsen.
Smart meters provide users with tools to control their electricity consumption and therefore mitigate the effects of shortages in the neighborhood. During blackouts, the meters ensure the availability of two amperes of electricity per household, which is enough electricity for the use of lights and basic devices. This amount rises to 32 amperes during normal supply times. Given the unlikelihood of Gaza receiving the full 500 megawatts that it needs, smart meters should be used to partially meet the demands of residents. Al Mezan stresses that while the meters are helpful in the collection of bills, that poor families should receive electricity at reduced prices.
Al Mezan notes that the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (Electricity Company) plans to replace old meters with smart ones in order to better respond to people’s needs. The Electricity Company is trying to secure 10,000 smart meters, of which it has procured 500, with each estimated at a cost of ILS 600. Currently, there are 273,000 households subscribing to the Electricity Company. In the absence of support for this process, the solution of smart meters will remain limited in its effectiveness.
Al Mezan’s records show that since 2010, 32 persons, including 25 children, have died in incidents involving the use of unsafe alternative energy sources, especially candles, which are the affordable choice for families. Thirty-six others have been injured, including 25 children and six women. Smart meters can help minimize the prevalence of accidents and deaths.
Informed by the above information, Al Mezan expresses its position that secure and sufficient access to electricity will require effective and strategic support from all competent actors, including through investment in development projects and efforts aimed at finding new, alternative energy sources. While encouraging the continued delivery of fuel for the Electricity Company, Al Mezan calls for far-reaching collaboration to finance the process of installing smart meters in houses in the Gaza Strip—which will help control and reduce power consumption, and ensure the continuous access to power in the areas of education and other basic services. The current supply of electricity will not be adequate once winter is underway and people’s energy needs increase.
 Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, “Electricity Crisis in the Gaza Strip – Electricity Crisis in Gaza: Potential Solutions from Generators to Smart Meters”. Available at http://mezan.org/uploads/files/1540290464601.pdf