3 March 2023

Full steam ahead for ban on new gas connections come November, consultation opened

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
person cooking with gas

Cooking with gas will soon no longer be possible in the ACT, with regulation coming to electrify all home appliances. Photo: File.

When Kate Mason heard the ACT Government wanted to be a net zero emissions city by 2045, she thought of her under-construction townhouse in Narrabundah.

“We decided it’s probably easier to have all-electrical appliances from the time we move in rather than retrofitting them down the track,” she said.

She and her husband contacted their developer and told them they didn’t want a gas connection as part of their home.

“For us, gas wasn’t a make or break when we purchased the property … it’s something that just came with the build,” Ms Mason said.

“While it’s costing us $6500 [extra] to get electrical appliances installed now, for us, this isn’t a huge sum when you compare it to ongoing costs associated with having gas connected.

“But more than that, it’s a small price to pay to be as environmentally sustainable as we can … the cost down the track was going to be more than it is upfront now.”

woman standing at construction site

Kate Mason and her husband removed gas from their new townhouse build in Narrabundah. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Since the ACT Government removed the legislated requirement for all new developments to have gas connections, it hoped more people would choose to only electrify their new homes.

This hasn’t happened, with about 80 per cent of all new homes in the Territory still connecting to gas – homes which would need to be electrified by 2045.

So the government is pushing forward with regulating the prevention of new fossil fuel gas network connections in the ACT.

It hopes this will come into effect this November and has called for feedback on the proposed regulation before it becomes law.

A senior ACT Government Emissions Reduction official said there’s currently “no real incentive” for people or developers not to include gas connections in new builds, and this regulation would close that gap.

“We don’t want people to pursue a gas connection now that will be out-of-date in a decade,” they said.

“[This] is a clear direction for all people in the community that this is a viable pathway to emission reduction.”

READ ALSO EVs will have ‘material impact’ on ACT electricity network, Evoenergy tells inquiry

The government’s particularly concerned about developers of multi-storey apartment buildings still hooking up to gas, which would leave buyers with the bill to electrify the complexes in the future.

“Property developers, architects and builders – who often decide to install a gas connection in a new building – have limited incentives to consider the additional long-term costs of a gas connection on tenants and owners,” the issues paper stated.

“We know that by allowing new fossil fuel gas connections to continue, we create a larger transition problem that will need to be funded by building owners and energy users in the future.

“While single residential properties may be able to undertake this transition [from gas to electricity] with limited cost and technical difficulty, medium and high-density properties which rely on fossil fuel gas can pose a particularly complex and high-cost transition challenge.

“The longer we delay, the higher the transition costs will be.”

Transition issues identified could include the cost of new appliances (potentially before the end of their economic life), the available space to retrofit electric appliances, switchboard upgrades, strata arrangements, engineering challenges for centralised hot water systems, and the potential that people would have to move out of their apartment while the retrofit was underway.

The paper identified about one-third of all new mixed-use, medium and high-density properties were connected to gas.

“Designing and building new properties to be all-electric from the start will avoid these future costs for building owners,” the paper argued.

READ ALSO Biochar technology might soon be able to turn your poo into agricultural gold (and sequester emissions)

The government plans to use planning zones to identify areas where gas connections are prohibited in the regulation and ban them in all residential and commercial zones.

This would bring knock-down rebuilds under the regulation.

The ACT Government’s also speaking with regulators to remove the cost of disconnecting existing gas connections for homeowners, which it acknowledged could be prohibitive.

Evoenergy estimated it had about 7700 ‘non-consuming’ connections on the network, with 5200 of these temporarily disconnecting their service but not removing the infrastructure.

The regulation would not apply to plumbed gas or LPG connections, which could become options for situations where gas is still needed.

READ ALSO Listen out for hearing health this World Hearing Day

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury said the proposed regulation was an important step in readying the city for an all-electric future.

“The days of cheap gas are over,” he said.

“I look forward to hearing community ideas on how we achieve the best outcome for Canberra households, businesses and industry.”

Consultation closes on 20 April.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

We don’t miss being bent over to pay for gas heating at all. After replacing gas heating with solar supplemented ducted RC our home is climate controlled all year round without fear of bill shock. Best decision ever.

It also supported several teams of tradies along the way helping the Canberra economy with skilled work and I even saw a few apprentices who now have a brighter future.

Too many EV’s and we have browouts. Not enough coal and we have a back out. How long and what is their plan to restart the power grid? It could take weeks. Some houses would freeze in winter and the frail rely on gas to heat themselves.

Social polices kill people.

We replaced our gas heating with ducted RC that’s twice as powerful and half the cost to run as gas, is far more efficient, and can use cheap daytime as well as our rooftop solar.

Our EV uses about as much energy as a room heater at 16 KWh / 100 KMs.

The AEMO forecast about a one third increase in electricity demand if we completely replace imported fuel with Australian produced energy supporting local jobs instead. Air-conditioning drove up demand more 20 years ago.

What’s the issue or what have you heard specifically?

Patrick Mckeough5:53 pm 03 Mar 23

Gas is a natural resource in abundace in this great country which we call home. Managed appropriately by the Government should be used as originally intended heating power plants etc and at a lowèr cost to those that use it. Should be a far cheaper alternative than renewables which are a hoax on society. Wake up Australia before its to.

I like Gas.
Our Freedom of choice has been eroded, removed.

During the Belconnen Storms back in JAN 21, we had no Electricity for over 6 Days, Thank God we had GAS, we could still use the gas cook top to make meals heat food, and we have an instantaneous, Gas Hot Water System,

Purchased a Small Generator from Bunnings after day three of no Electricity, it worked it created the small Spark required to heat the water so my Family of Six could have Hot Showers,

Now ACT Gov,
How are we supposed to stay clean and feed our family, when we are all on Electric? I don’t envy anyone who would struggle to feed or keep clean during a Prolonged Blackout.

The average Electric Cooktop uses anywhere from 1200 to over 3000 watts, Induction use a bit less, that is one large Generator required to keep that working.

I don’t like gas. Never have, never will.
So when I arranged for my home to be built in 2009, I told the builder that I wanted an electric hotplate and reverse cycle air-conditioning. Apparently, this being Canberra, you had to have ducted gas heating and “everybody prefers cooking with gas” – well, I am not everybody, I am me and I don’t.
I relented on the gas heating and have hated that system from the very first winter on with gas bills of more than $1500 for the colder months! In comparison, my electricity bills for the past 12 months were zero, thanks to the solar panels (50.05 cents gross feed in) on my roof!

With a 50 cent FIT. aren’t you better off selling all your power and using gas?
The cost of powering with electic would be 50cents per kwH hour far more expensive than gas heating. Sure $1500 is huge but so would the electic cost.

Why can’t the gas network be converted to green hydrogen by 2045 so we can keep using gas appliances with perhaps a simple mod to change to the new fuel?

Because hydrogen is only suitable when diluted.

Besides, hydrogen is very inefficient. Most of the energy is lost across the lifecycle compared with direct energy transfer (electrification).

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.