NORTH BAY -- Homes and businesses along Northshore and Peninsula Roads in North Bay can expect a switch to natural gas in the coming months.

Construction of a $10 million underground natural gas pipeline is underway, with the province chipping in $9 million in funding.

"Our mandate is to grow our city," said Mayor Al McDonald. "This is going to be a definite benefit to all of our homeowners in that area."

The project is along the route of a project approved by the former Kathleen Wynne government, but dropped by the Ford Conservatives. Enbridge Energy then picked up the pieces.

"I just spoke with NPL Canada, who is the construction manager, and I'm really pleased with the progress they're making," said Ontario's Associate Minister of Energy, Bill Walker.

The expansion project will see 27 kilometres of pipeline laid by NPL Canada. It's being funded through the province's Natural Gas Expansion Program and is set to deliver service to 130 homes and businesses along both roads.

"Construction started on June 25," said Walker. "They are a fair ways through and hopefully we'll be able to conclude soon … Obviously, COVID has had its mix in a few things."

Most of project will be completed this year

In a statement to CTV News, Enbridge said 70 per cent of the project will be completed in 2020 and customers in that area could be connected by late 2020. The remaining 30 per cent of the project will be completed in 2021.

"Many North Bay customers already enjoy the value natural gas offers, and we’re thrilled to be able to connect more homes and businesses along Northshore and Peninsula Roads to the most affordable home and water heating energy source,” said Cynthia Hansen, executive vice-president and president of gas distribution and storage with Enbridge.

The province estimates households that switch to natural gas can save up to 46 per cent on heating costs each year, while businesses can save up to 30 per cent.

"It's for heating and cooling," said Walker. "Two absolute essentials that you have. This will create affordable energy and jobs coming into the community. It's just great, great news."

McDonald is hopeful the city, the province and Enbridge can partner again to find more ways to provide service to other areas.

"We will partner with Enbridge and the province to extend natural gas to some of other rural areas that don't have it," said McDonald.

The project is part of Ontario's first phase of the natural gas expansion, which aims to connect 9,000 customers in northern, rural and Indigenous communities.