Ontario government officials say expanding access to natural gas in Chatham-Kent will help lower heating costs, create jobs and make businesses more competitive.

Associate Minister of Energy Bill Walker announced Wednesday that construction work has officially begun on two new natural gas transmission pipelines in Chatham-Kent after they were granted approval from the Ontario Energy Board .

“By expanding access to natural gas, our government is helping make life more affordable for businesses and families in Chatham-Kent,” said Walker. “Expanding natural gas access will help make Chatham-Kent more attractive for job creation and new business growth and sends the clear message that Ontario is open for business.”

The Chatham-Kent project, developed by Enbridge Gas, will benefit from up to $8 million in eligible funding to expand natural gas access primarily to meet the demands of the growing local greenhouse sector.

The municipality estimates the additional natural gas capacity could create up to 1,400 new jobs in the greenhouse industry alone.

Officials say the average household in Chatham-Kent could also save up to $2,200 per year in energy costs as they switch from costlier fuel sources.

The pipelines are expected to be in service as early as the end of 2019.

“This will lead to cheaper home heating costs for families and more investment by businesses,” said Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton. “That’s a double win for the region. I’m proud of our government for initiating this project.”

Chatham-Kent mayor Darrin Canniff says the construction of this new natural gas line is vital because it allows for the immediate development and expansion of businesses in the community.

“The work we are doing today ensures future generations of Chatham-Kent residents will have access to important job-making infrastructure,” said Canniff.

President of Enbridge Gas Cynthia Hansen said this project will invest in much needed natural gas infrastructure to unlock over $260 million of development potential in Chatham-Kent and surrounding areas.

“We are committed to having this project in service by the end of 2019, so this community can benefit from the added capacity and related benefits this expansion will generate,” said Hansen. “We’re looking forward to serving the needs of these new and growing commercial and industrial customers in the Chatham-Kent area.”