The ACT arm of the Conservation Council has called on the ACT Government to disallow gas connections in new multi-unit developments, expanding on legislation that removed mandated gas connections in new Canberra suburbs.
The council is also calling for an embargo on newly built residences in established suburbs installing gas appliances and reconnecting to the gas network.
The ACT is looking to become carbon neutral by 2045 and reduce its emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2025 by phasing out gas, which contributes over 20 per cent of the Territory’s emissions.
The call from the Conservation Council comes on the heels of a draft report from Evoenergy, which operates the gas distribution network in the ACT and Queanbeyan-Palerang local government area.
Director of the Conservation Council Helen Oakey says Evoenergy’s plan is good, but not good enough.
“We support Evoenergy’s analysis that, when it comes to rolling out gas infrastructure to new suburbs in Canberra, it’s not business as usual, and welcome their proposal to stop the gas rollout into Canberra’s new suburbs,” Ms Oakey said.
“The first step to transition from gas to renewable electricity across the city is to stop rolling out new gas infrastructure – it risks locking people into appliances and technologies that create greenhouse emissions and may not be viable into the future.”
She has also called on the Government to act swiftly and decisively ahead of Evoenergy’s draft plan to work towards the ACT’s net-zero emissions target.
“It is clear that the ACT Government needs to send a stronger policy signal to Evoenergy prior to this 2021-2025 Plan being adopted. That is: stop all new residential hookups in established suburbs,” Ms Oakey said.
Gas consumption in the ACT has been falling since 2011, a trend set to continue over the next five years according to Minister for Climate Change Shane Rattenbury, after the Territory became the first region in Australia to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy last September.
“This is a transition we can make in a way that saves households money. New, efficient electric appliances can provide residents with savings compared to equivalent gas appliances,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“For example, efficient reverse-cycle air conditioning can reduce household energy bills by around $500 per year compared to gas heating.
“The Government will work with the community to ensure the transition away from gas is a ‘just transition’, through the provision of information, incentives, and appropriate support.”
However, Canberra Liberals’ leader Alistair Coe has called the development bad news for Canberra households and businesses that depend on gas.
“The latest plan to turn off gas is a classic example of Labor-Green ideology coming before the best interest of Canberra families,” the Opposition Leader said.
“It is all very well for the government to say that people should switch over to electricity, but in reality, people are using gas for a reason. Either they already have gas appliances, or they have very good reasons for why gas is the only energy source to suit their needs.
“I think it is very irresponsible.”