The Reading Power Plant will start to operate on natural gas by the end of the week, the National Infrastructure Ministry and Israel Electric Corporation said Sunday. The announcement comes five years after the project was initiated to replace the refinement of crude oil with the more environment friendly and cost efficient natural gas as the facility's power source, and one month after the plant was closed and reopened with the assurance that it would complete the project by the end of June. "Despite the difficulties that we had along the way, we completed over the weekend all the operational checks needed to allow us to start the flow of natural gas to the Reading Plant," the Infrastructure Ministry said. Earlier this month, Eli Ronen, director general of the ministry committed to having the plant convert to natural gas within 21 days after plans to further delay the switch and after the IEC initiated power outages in various parts of the country due to its inability to meet increased electricity demands during a heat wave. While Reading was initially scheduled to start receiving the gas a year ago with the completion of the natural gas pipeline, the deadline was extended due to four separate requests to allow the station to operate with crude oil, each causing an extension of a few months. The ministry said on each request that the project was not progressing at a satisfactory speed and that several months may pass before it was implemented. The ministry said Sunday that natural gas would begin to flow on the pipeline from Ashdod to Tel Aviv where the Reading station is situated next to Sde Dov Airport. The Reading power station produces about 450 mega watts, or about 5 percent, of the IEC's total production of electricity and will receive the gas along the pipeline supplied by government company Yam Thetis. It is the second IEC plant to run on natural gas, along with the Eshkol Power Plant and the company said 16% of its electricity supply would now be based on natural gas. Reading's conversion is expected to reduce pollutant emissions by "tens of percentage points" and will reduce its electricity production costs by some $380,000 per day.