Dave Charleson of Enbridge Gas is confident the company will sign up enough customers. ((CBC))

Enbridge Gas New Brunswick has the green light to build a 14-km natural gas pipeline from Sackville to Dorchester.

The province's Energy and Utilities Board announced its approval of the project at a short public hearing held Thursday in Dorchester.

The Dorchester Penitentiary is the only guaranteed customer in the small village east of Moncton. It's contributing $350,000 to the project's total estimated cost of more than $2 million.

'We don't see it as being any more risky than any of our other projects.' —Dave Charleson, Enbridge Gas

The long-term financial viability of the project requires that a number of local households and businesses also sign up for natural gas.

"Now that we have this permit, we will be reaching out to residences and commercial properties in Dorchester to generate interest and to sign more people up," said Dave Charleson, general manager of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick.

The board had expressed some concern over the tight financing of the project.

Charleson said the expansion is financially viable and expects local people and businesses will sign up, even though the board is considering rate hikes.

"Well, we don't see it as being any more risky than any of our other projects," said Charleson. "We have a commitment from the prison in terms of making that contribution. We wouldn't have moved forward with the project without that commitment."

The new pipeline faced no official opposition from external parties or local groups.

Construction could begin as soon as August and is expected to be completed by the end of the year

The project has been in the works since 2005.