To the north of the Menashe Hills (Ramat Menashe) lies a newly afforested area that has been named the Israel Electric Corporation Customers’ Forest. Situated to the north of Route 70, which runs alongside the Tut River (Nahal Tut), the forest sprawls over the hills that surround the Hagit Power Station. These trees were planted as an appreciatory gesture to Corporation customers who have opted to receive their bills by e-mail, in order to help save paper and conserve the environment. In early 2012 the Electric Corporation began to offer its consumers the option of electronic billing, and it has invested the money saved thereby in the creation of this new forest, which is dedicated to its customers.
Every two months, the Electric Corporation sends out around 2.5 million bills. So far over 200 thousand consumers have opted to get their bills by e-mail. This saves the company from having to send out every year some 1,200,000 paper bills weighing a total of around 24 tons, for which the destruction of 400 trees would be required. The Electric Corporation and KKL-JNF hope that additional customers will come to see the advantages of electronic billing and the environmental benefits this arrangement provides.
Israel Electric Corporation Customers’ Forest was inaugurated in April 2012. The forest and power station are both named after the Hagit Spring (Ma‘yan Hagit), which rises slightly to the east of the power station on land cultivated by Tzabar Farm. In winter the waters of this small spring flow along Nahal Hagit (“Hagit River”), a section of which is diverted through a pipe on power station property. Archeological excavations near the spring have revealed the remains of a building from the Roman period. Another spring, Ein Katina, flows into a small pool close to the north-western corner of the power station. The quality of the water from these springs is monitored constantly, as it flows into the Nahal Tut Nature Reserve (Wadi Milh).
So far, KKL-JNF has planted new trees on some 900 dunam (approx 225 acres) out of an overall area of 3,000 dunam (750 acres) that has been earmarked for afforestation. Most of the trees in the forest, which includes small groves of older conifers, were transplanted from other areas where they were endangered. To help them settle in, the young trees are irrigated for the first few years after planting with some of the water otherwise used to provide steam for electricity production.
Hagit Power Station produces 1,400 megawatts of electricity using natural gas, an environmentally friendly fuel. The station is situated on the side of the hill, and thus concealed from the eyes of travelers passing by along Route 70. Innovative technologies for the collection of wastewater and industrial effluent ensure that the environment around the power station remains unpolluted; nighttime noise and light emissions are similarly limited and controlled.