In the interest of expediting the process of connecting more of Israel to natural gas usage, the Energy and Water Ministry has approved grants worth NIS 1 million to provide four factories switching to natural gas operation, the ministry announced on Tuesday.These first four grants, which will each amount to $250,000, are the first of many in a grant distribution budget of NIS 120m., determined by a joint committee for natural gas authority in the Energy and Water Ministry, Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and Finance Ministry. The initial grants are going to Shaniv Paper Ltd, Phoenicia Glass Works Ltd., Fireproof Industries Ltd. and Asian Chemical Industries Ltd., and will be paid in increments as the firms achieve different milestones, the Energy and Water Ministry said.Aiming to connect more and more factories to the natural gas network, the total budget is occurring within the framework of a government decision that encourages economic incentives to potential large-scale natural gas consumers, according to the ministry.The total NIS 120m. will be distributed among medium and large consumers in six distribution areas as defined by Energy and Water Ministry, with an allocation of up to NIS 250,000 per customer. A medium consumer is one that consumes between 100,000 and 1 million cubic meters of gas per year, and a large consumer is one that consumes more than 1 million cubic meters per year.Expenses to which the budget can apply include purchasing new equipment for natural gas usage and installation, as well as purchasing control systems and implementing the compatibility measures required for a transition to natural gas, the ministry said.On the same day, the Interior Ministry’s National Council for Planning and Building elected five potential sites that could serve as future reception facilities for natural gas, the council announced.The five sites, selected from 12 alternatives according to comprehensive environmental reviews and community opinions, are Dor North, Hagit East private power station, Hadera sewage treatment plant, Emek Hefer-Meretz sewage treatment plant and Ein Ayala quarry, the council said. All the options were examined according to various criteria, including engineering and operational considerations. such as distance to gas lines, spatial and societal issues and overall feasibility.The five top options will now be examined in further depth, after which council members will select a top choice and create a detailed scheme for it, which they will present for comments and public objections.