4 August 2022

ACT lays ground work to be gas-free by 2045, new connections banned from next year

| Lottie Twyford
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Gas cooktop

The ACT intends to wean itself off fossil-fuel gas by 2045, meaning this kind of hob will be a thing of the past. Photo: Bill Oxford.

The ACT Government has today detailed its long-anticipated staged approach to ridding itself of gas – excluding niche uses – by 2045.

The transition will begin next year with new connections being banned.

Fossil-fuel gas currently accounts for 20 per cent of the Territory’s emissions.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr acknowledged there would be costs associated with the transition, but it would be “gentle” and the government wanted to give the community certainty about the future.

“This is a long-term and gentle transition. We’re not switching off the gas network overnight. Like the transition from analogue to digital TV, or the phase-out of leaded petrol, this will be a staged and managed transition,” he said.

Similar language was used when the ACT announced its zero-emissions-vehicle strategy last month.

Previously, some had raised concerns about how a cold climate city like Canberra could survive without gas heating.

But Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury told the Assembly today that the new suburb of Ginninderry proved it was possible. Mr Rattenbury this morning introduced new legislation which would eventually allow the ACT Government to override national energy laws and prevent new gas connections.

That regulation is expected to come into force next year and Evoenergy is working with the government.

Last year, Evoenergy committed to no longer connecting new suburbs to gas infrastructure.

Previous variations to the Territory plan have rolled back the mandate to supply new suburbs with gas connections but the new legislation would ban them entirely.

Shane Rattenbury

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said it is possible to survive a Canberra winter without gas heating. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

The government has also noted the gas transition is effectively already underway, as consumers, driven by market forces and price increases, switch to electric appliances instead.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Some buildings and living situations, such as apartments and unit complexes, present more of an electrification challenge than others.

Many of these details will be worked out in the next 20 years, with the gas network expected to play a significant role for at least the next decade.

The ACT Government will also develop a more detailed Integrated Energy Plan in the coming years.

Next year, households will be encouraged to develop their own transition plan for their home and slowly replace gas appliances with electric ones as they come to the end of their lives.

Once all gas appliances are gone, the household will have to remove the remaining gas connections to the network.

This costs around $800.

This transition will ramp up between 2040 and 2045. But even at this stage, the government doesn’t envisage banning the sale of gas appliances entirely, instead hoping the transition will occur without needing a ‘stick’.

READ ALSO Batteries of all sizes needed to strengthen grid as ACT prepares to bid adieu to gas

Modelling undertaken over the past two years on behalf of the government indicates gas use will continue to decline naturally and gas prices are expected to increase. At the same time, electricity demand is expected to grow.

The government has defended the electricity grid, saying it will be ready to manage the increased load thanks to a range of changes underway, including big community and household batteries, as well as the continued uptake of rooftop solar.

Before external factors, including the war in Ukraine, it was predicted the retail price of gas would increase by 19 per cent by 2029. That’s an annual increase of $220 for the average household.

Prices have likely increased even more due to geopolitical factors.

ACT gas consumption has been declining by an average of 2 per cent a year for the last 10 years. This is expected to be around 2.5 per cent a year going forwards.

READ ALSO ACT Budget Reaction: Business urges more action on skills, attracting staff

Modelling conducted also envisaged a scenario where fossil-fuel gas was replaced by hydrogen or biogas. But this was found to be more expensive and less effective.

It’s anticipated these will play an important role in heavy industry.

The government has a range of supports available to ensure an equitable transition away from gas. Among these is the Sustainable Household Scheme which can be used to purchase new electric appliances.

Many are using that loan scheme to install rooftop solar.

Low-income households and renters will continue to be supported through other schemes. It’s hoped landlords will also replace their gas applications with new electric ones when they need replacing.

READ ALSO Induction challenges gas for the gold standard in Canberra kitchens

In its detailed policy statement, the government said it will work with industry to identify new opportunities for people working with gas, such as fitters. It will also investigate future uses for the Territory’s gas distribution network.

The commitment to be gas-free by 2045 – the same year as the zero-emissions target – was set out in the 2020 Labor-Greens Parliamentary and Governing Agreement.

An online hub called Powering Canberra has been designed for the community.

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As with the NBN, our politicians and their advisors with little to no understanding of what they are talking about are making laws that will have many unintended practical and logistical consequences.

The reality is that the ACT electricity grid can’t handle the extra load of every other dwelling in the ACT significantly increasing their electricity supply needs to upgrade from gas, even over time, and likely won’t for a very long time.

The electricity distributors and their customers simply cannot afford it. It isn’t just a matter of changing over your gas stove to an electric one.

Many older apartment buildings and commercial buildings will not be able to handle extra electrical loads without prohibitively expensive infrastructure upgrades both inside the dwelling and on the street as the buildings and grid were not designed to handle such a massive increase in load.

Have had gas appliances in the past and we have now been electric for 15+Yrs and have never looked back. Bring on the gas ban as it’s exactly the sort of actions required by governments to wean us off fossil fuels. It won’t please the ‘die hards’ but they’ll learn eventually.

I switched to an induction cooktop a few years ago and didn’t like it. If I had the oven on hot, 200deg + , the cooktop overheated and shut down the heating elements. I also managed to shatter it with a hot cast iron pot from the oven. Back on gas now so not looking forward to switching out again.

You sound like a danger to any kitchen.

People, if you think that only gas can heat your homes because your homes are so cold, good grief, add more insulation to your houses and do something sensible. Under floor, walls and ceiling.
New homes can also be built that require very little heating. No one should build a home without doing some research first.

Adding too much insulation can trap moisture in the house encouraging mould to grow.

My house has not developed mould from being well insulated, but my last, hardly insulated at all house did. If insulation is done properly why should mould occur?

Yup, just core fill your walls with insulation it’s quite simple. Those walls you can’t access externally due to the adjacent building on your zero boundaries… Just insulate from the inside-remove and reinstall the gyprock that’s easy too! While your at it if you can’t gain access below your waffle pod slab, lift your finished floors up and cover them with spray on insulation. Return the floor finishes and all that is left to do is notch your architraves and trim down your doors by 50mm. Take a well rounded weekend warrior approximately 5 trips to Bunnings over 3 weekends.

Its worth pointing out that the whole driver of this is idelogical – climate change cannot be proved scientifically, so what is driving this? Are the politicians so poorly educated in science they cannot understand the need for CO2 in order to grow plants? Cut back CO2 too far and the population will literally starve to death.

And here is the thing – the whole process of “lets foolishly electrify everything” ignores the huge cost () paid for by coinsumers of course ) of having to do a huge amount of work upgrading the electrical network so it can cope with doubling the load on it.

Speaking as an Engineer, its worth pointing out that coal plants dont wear out, thats an ignorant myth pedalled by impressionable and uneducated people – coal plants they get bits replaced all the time, they have an indefinite life span, and are reliable base load – to replace all coal plants we would have to cover 10% of our total land mass in solar panels at monsterous cost.

Wind power turbines are done within 20 years, need to be replaced. And dont forget solar panels are environmentally one of the dirtiest thing to dispose of. All the facts are there if people want to be educated on this stuff.

The ACT has the highest educated population per head in Oz, but maybe the most uneducatedwhen it comes to actual facts on renewables.

Hello Stevew77.

What are your criteria for “proved scientifically”? Give other examples.

You like to recite the fact you are an engineer of some description (thus denying you are a climate scientist of any description). I am interested in your assumptions, logic and research, so start with a clear response to my query above.

Phydeaux,
Don’t you know we need a spare Earth to experiment on to “scientifically” prove climate change is caused by human actions?

You are right chewy, but is one enough for a proper sample? Also, haven’t we neglected having some control planets, and what if someone needs an emergency placebo?

Finally, someone that knows what they are talking about! Not only is climate change a natural phenomenon not related to human civilisation as Steve points out it’s a bad idea to remove too much CO2 and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
There exists technology where you can basically pump light reflecting chemicals into the air over the polar caps and it will cause hell to freeze over: https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2021/01/11/bill-gates-backed-climate-solution-gains-traction-but-concerns-linger/amp/
So if global warming were real you could do that and literally create a new ice age if we wanted to. And that would be cheaper and less damaging to the environment than renewables.
I’d add to Steve’s points that another major issue with renewables is space. Look around Canberra and you will see solar farms compete for land with agriculture and urban development. Build one coal fired power plant and you’d supply not even Canberra but regional NSW as well.

“Finally, someone that knows what they are talking about!”

Thanks, but the problem still lies with you and the suddenly absent stevew77. Would you like to answer my query instead? Cite your qualifications in climate science while you are at it.

Given you reference the Forbes article, doubtless you agree with its conclusion:
“Considering the unknown risks attached to solar geoengineering, OECD members should continue in their efforts to develop economically attractive renewable energy technology, even as it supplements such efforts with limited and careful research and experimentation.“

Did you even read the article, or just launch into a rapturous fantasy based on the first sentence of the headline? The second part of the headline being:
“What could go wrong?”

@stevew77 and Sam Oak
You had the opportunity to test your denialism on 21st May and unfortunately for you, you finished in the very much rejected minority. Despite the fact that you continue to reject the science behind anthropomorphic causes of climate change your opinion is now just more hot air. The majority of Australians have spoken, so get over it

Climate science ( is there an actual field of study for such a mythical thing ? ) qualifications, I have none. Gulty as charged, yer Honour.

Engineering, yes, absolutely. Electrical. And a very logical mind to go with it.

So lets start with CAGW allegedly causing higher temps ( and therefore more fires ), however this paper below suggests a high level of fire activity 4000 years previous, but then decleining to present day. However if we indulge the CAGW myth, that would be the reverse and we should see an increase in fires and intensity from 1900 onwards as our industrial civilisation got going and spewing out a lot of extra plant food into the atmosphere…..

“A late-Holocene multiproxy fire record from a tropical savanna, eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia”
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0959683620988030

Thoughts?

Capital Retro5:28 pm 04 Aug 22

Once again the Canberra Liberals are asleep. This idealistic issue that will impact on more than half of Canberra is big enough to win the next election.

Why must we be gas free?

have they actually asked the residents of Gininderry how they’ve gone with just RC a/c for heating?? and when is this climate sensitive government going to ban wood heaters??

Capital Retro3:15 pm 04 Aug 22

Maybe the only affordable renewable energy source in the future will be camel dung from the NT.

They could always pipe in the hot gas from our parliaments?

And is the ACT Government is going to pay for the new appliances, disconnection fees and the difference between gas prices and the ever increasing cost of electricity? Maybe get rid of wood fires first and provide useful rebates to do it (not the pitiful ones we have now).

Just one question. Can you guarantee electricity at a reasonable price with no blackouts due to high usage of electricity or am I going to have to light a bonfire in the back yard to stay warm.

Electricity bills in the ACT are actually dropping this year, unlike every other state: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-06/why-arent-canberrans-paying-high-electricity-prices/101126274

My question is electricity at a reasonable price, not just next year. And can they guarantee supply

I’d buy matches if I were you. This appears to be about greenist ideology, not logic or common sense.

Capital Retro1:44 pm 04 Aug 22

Who pays the $800 disconnection fee?

This is the ACT – just who do you imagine might be paying ? And I don’t think it’ll be the ACT government.

“Next year, households will be encouraged to develop their own transition plan for their home and slowly replace gas appliances with electric ones as they come to the end of their lives.

Once all gas appliances are gone, the household will have to remove the remaining gas connections to the network.

This costs around $800.”

Pretty clear to me. It’s the household that’ll be footing the bill.

Either way, it’s the household that pays – either directly to a contractor, or indirectly (and less efficiently) through your rates and other taxes.

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