Some 50 manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to pay higher tariffs on electricity used during peak demand hours in exchange for lower rates over the rest of the year, the Manufacturers Association of Israel reported on Monday. The objective of the program is to encourage industries to use less power during peak times in order to help reduce the possibility of power outages caused by excessive demands on the country's electric grid, explained Moshe Cohen, chairman of energy committee in the Manufacturers' Association. "Blackouts are caused when the electricity supply can't keep up with the demand and each year, on average, power outages cause some NIS 100 million in damage - this program, by encouraging less power use during high-demand hours, will hopefully reduce the occurrences of power outages," said Cohen. Meanwhile, in its drive to produce cleaner, more efficient and more reliable electricity, the Israel Electric Company announced on Monday that the Gezer power plant, near the city of Ramle, will be operating on natural gas by the end of the week. "We hope that after we connect Gezer to the country's natural gas pipeline, the power plant will be capable of producing electricity for the country's citizens that is not only more reliable, but environmentally friendly as well," said deputy director general of IEC engineering projects, Yaakov Hain. According to the IEC, this is the fourth power plant to convert its operations from diesel to natural gas, and it will be capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity from the gas. IEC currently operates some 60 power stations across the country and intends to convert about half of them to gas-based operations. Separately, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer hosted representatives from the World Bank and the Palestinian Energy Association in discussions to determine the future of Israel's supplying the PA territories with natural gas. According to Hagit Ganish, ministry spokeswoman, World Bank representatives said at the meeting that they are ready to invest â‚¬150m. to build the necessary infrastructure for Israel to connect the PA territories with Israel's natural gas pipeline.