National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer laid the foundation stone for Haifa's new NIS 2.7 billion power station last week, saying that a new era had begun in Haifa and that residents would enjoy a significant improvement in the quality of their air, reports www.mynet.co.il. The new station, which will run on natural gas, is expected to supply some 750 megawatts of power. According to the report, the project, to be built on the Shemen Beach in the city's industrial area, was officially launched last week at a festive ceremony attended by the minister, Mayor Yona Yahav and other officials. "We have reached the moment when a new era has begun in Haifa... the natural gas will flow here, to the Haifa Bay and northern Israel, and will enable residents in this part of the country to enjoy a recognizable improvement in their air quality," Ben-Eliezer said. According to a report in www.local.co.il, the new station is expected to begin operating in 2010. The report said that permits for its construction were issued back in 1999 and it was originally scheduled to begin functioning in 2005, but bureaucratic hitches have delayed the work by five years. It is not yet clear what impact the discovery of 88 billion cubic meters of natural gas, found 90 km. offshore near Haifa earlier this week by a US-Israel consortium, will have on the new power station.