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Ginninderry development to trial gas-free homes in Stage 1

By Ian Bushnell 5 February 2018 72

The first homes in the West Belconnen development will not be connected to gas but will use solar panels to power efficient electrical heating appliances.

The new master-planned Ginninderry development’s first 350 homes will not be connected to gas but rely on electrical cooking and heating appliances powered by their own solar panels.

The concept will be trialled in Stage 1 of the West Belconnen development as part of plans by the ACT Government to move away from fossil fuels to renewable electricity by 2020.

The homes will also have smart metres to help contain power costs and Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said Ginninderry would have an important role in meeting the demand for diverse and affordable housing in the West Belconnen region over the coming years.

“This trial precinct provides an opportunity to ensure that housing delivered in Canberra is both environmentally sustainable and affordable for our community,” Ms Berry said.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said that moving away from gas was an important step in addressing climate change.

“As the ACT moves to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020, gas will become one of the major remaining contributors to greenhouse gas pollution, so we will need to find options to reduce gas use,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Ginninderry residents will also save money, with energy modelling for the pilot finding that households will save over $14,000 when using all electrical appliances compared to gas (over the life of the appliances).”

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said a Variation to the Territory Plan would remove the requirement for gas to be provided to Stage 1. The draft variation will be released shortly and will have an interim effect.

The trial will be assessed following a reasonable time period to ensure it meets consumer needs and grid security requirements, including testing capacity and function in a range of climate conditions.

The trial would also ensure higher design and insulation standards are set for any future proposals.

Affordable sustainable living is to be a feature of this development, with the developers seeking to create a place underpinned by leading-edge design and development practices, including mandated solar panels.

The lessons of this trial could be applied to other developments in the ACT to bring advances in sustainability, more affordable living and greater customer choice.

Ginninderry is a joint venture of the ACT Land Development Agency (LDA) and Riverview Developments Pty Limited on behalf of Corkhill Brothers Pty Ltd.

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71 Responses to
Ginninderry development to trial gas-free homes in Stage 1
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Christopher Lee 6:41 am 10 Feb 18

Sounds good- make sure to use induction cooktops

Phillip Carlson 7:28 am 09 Feb 18


Gillian Howard-Evieux 12:13 am 09 Feb 18

Has there been any thoçught given to building totally eco-passive earthships?? Thats the real way to go ...

Louise Fitzgerald 10:46 pm 07 Feb 18

Mandatory electric stoves. No choice. Yuk. Nothing cooks like gas.

John Moulis 7:31 am 06 Feb 18

@Corey – “How much extra will (the houses) cost”? On the contrary, I would have thought that a lack of an essential household resource such as gas would severely harm a property’s value, not increase it. In fact I would go so far as to say that these houses are a real estate agent’s worst nightmare.

    Maya123 3:48 pm 07 Feb 18

    When I had my house built I asked for my house NOT to be connected to the gas. The builder wanted to have gas cooking. It would have been a waste of money; with only the stove top connected (and I dislike gas cooking) and the solar hot water booster for one or two months a year. I would have had to pay an extra quarterly fee for so little. So my house is all electric. I had no gas or electric heating built in. They weren’t needed.

    I would dislike buying a house with gas connected; so, as with swimming pools, where some like them and other don’t, some like gas connected and some don’t.

    With gas prices rising I would think that having an all electric house and only one quarterly fee to pay, would be seen as a positive by many people.

Missingno Jeremy 9:42 pm 05 Feb 18

Not hugely impressed. They still haven't addressed the issue of how they'll stop building waste getting in the river. Seems no environmental impact studies were done either, which is concerning considering how much of a major river it is.

Capital Retro 9:36 pm 05 Feb 18

Creating an exclusive “gas free” area in this new residential development could be because there are a lot of “un-mapped unknowns” where the West Belconnen tip was and it is possible that there will be fugitive plumes of methane escaping in the future. These can drift for long distances and also leach through soil to distant places.

It would not be wise to risk these gasses meeting the naked flames of a household gas HWS pilot light.

Corey Karl 9:21 pm 05 Feb 18

Great !!!! How much extra is it actually gonna cost??? Because let's be honest, house prices are already too excessive

    Julie Macklin 3:50 pm 07 Feb 18

    Why would it cost extra not to have gas connected? It would be cheaper with one less service, and one less quarterly fee, whether you use any gas or not.

    Corey Karl 3:52 pm 07 Feb 18

    Julie Macklin so your using more electricity....... which means they'll make you out on solar panels..... which means it's gonna cost you more !!!

    Julie Macklin 4:56 pm 07 Feb 18

    Corey Karl Can you please explain more clearly what you mean? :) Do you mean I will use electricity for heating for instance. I rarely do. Do you mean I would use electricity for cooking...well yes, but you pay for this whether gas or electricity. I'm sure you have electricity connected which is one basic fee, but then if you have gas connected that's another fee every three months. Not having gas connected I save paying that three monthly fee.

    Corey Karl 7:04 pm 07 Feb 18

    Considering the Canberra climate is largely heating based....... are the new dwellings going to be electrical heated ???

    Corey Karl 7:11 pm 07 Feb 18

    Try as they might..... you cannot design an entire suburb on small to average sized blocks, facing in such a way that they can all be solar passive. If and when hearing is required, it will be electric, which generally in my experience is more expensive to run !!!! If solar panels are involved, which I suspect they will, that is an additional cost, along with solar passive designs, double and triple glazing, etc !!!! The extra "fee" that you pay for connection to gas will be well and truely gobbled up by extra electricity usage!!!

    Julie Macklin 7:23 pm 07 Feb 18

    Corey Karl A grid design allows solar assess for many houses. Also, reducing the need to drive around doodles and saves on fuel.

    Corey Karl 7:43 pm 07 Feb 18

    Yes and I'm sure a grid design will be high on the developers list of things to do !!!! Is that design like Wright and Coombs which were "designed" fir solar access???

    Julie Macklin 8:56 pm 07 Feb 18

    Corey Karl I needed to look at a map. They are sort of grid design, but they do not have a solar outlook in many cases (north), especially Coombs. That one in particular doesn't appear to have been designed with solar in mind. But even it had been, most people don't build houses that can take advantage of it, and wouldn't care enough to, unless forced to. And if that happened, then wait for the screams, about the nanny state telling them what to build. Better to complain about the cost of heating than look for a suitable design.

    Corey Karl 9:03 pm 07 Feb 18

    Maybe you need to read the lease and development conditions for these new suburbs and then tell me about how the nanny state tells you what to build!!! Hundreds upon hundreds of rules and regs about what you can and can't do with your house and block...... Coombs and Wright were supposed to be designed so every house had solar access, the gov spent big dollars trying to achieve it, and failed miserably. Can I ask, how big is the block your house is situated on ???

    Peter Campbell 4:54 pm 08 Feb 18

    Corey Karl Use a heat pump for heating. You use a small amount of energy to move a larger amount of energy from the outside air to inside. Several hundred percent efficient and using the ACT's soon to be 100% renewable electricity rather than fossil fuel gas.

    Corey Karl 5:50 pm 08 Feb 18

    Still an extra cost

    Julie Macklin 9:08 pm 08 Feb 18

    My present block is 650 sq metres, but it's not my first house. I saved over 30 years for this one. My previous house (the one I lived in for those 30 years) was about 440 sq metres. I still had room for a big vegetable garden, parking in the back yard for 3 to 4 cars and several fruit trees. Plus lawn, back and front. My first house was 99 sq metres and 3 people lived in it. I bought it from a family of 5. But these days people build much bigger houses, for less people often. Expectations have changed for first home buyers. Wanting a bigger house was always there, but generally that was not for the first house. Now it is.

    Corey Karl 9:12 pm 08 Feb 18

    Julie Macklin agreed

    Corey Karl 9:27 pm 08 Feb 18

    Electricity is not cheaper than gas regarding heating a house..... add to that the cost of solar panels and accessories, which no doubt will be implemented to offset the power usage!!! Electric hot water or solar hot water is about 3 times more expensive to install than gas and more to run !!! Electric hot plates are more expensive !!! It's a big list ........Quickly chews into your gas connection fee !!! Personally I think the reason why its an electricity only suburb is it's probably too expensive for the developers to get gas to the suburb

    Julie Macklin 9:35 pm 08 Feb 18

    Corey Karl You haven't explained why, especially after saving the quarterly supply charge for gas, not having gas connected would cost you more money. I don't have gas connected, so not sure, but I imagine the supply charge would be $240 to $300 saved a year not being connected to gas. New houses are supposedly better insulated too, so should cost less to heat than old. Please explain why a new house would cost more to be all electric than gas.

    Julie Macklin 9:44 pm 08 Feb 18

    Corey Karl Solar hot water is more expensive to run than gas you say. Now I've read the ridiculous! I have solar hot water and for over 10 months a year ALL the heating is done by the sun. The booster is switched OFF. Then for 2 months the booster is switched on some of the time. This time could be decreased if I added more evacuated tubes. The booster can be electric or gas. Mine is electric.

    Corey Karl 9:51 pm 08 Feb 18

    Well it depends when you use your hot water wouldn't it Julie??? Look at the end of the day, I don't really care anymore, it is going to cost more to build an all electric house in a suburb !!! I've been building houses for over 20 years, I've seen a bit...... luckily, I don't ever plan on living there so good luck to anyone that does!!! In a perfect world your fanciful ideas may work, but we don't !!! But keep on believing and good luck to you

Wade Bermingham 8:03 pm 05 Feb 18

Are electric stoves and water heaters supposed to be a new thing to Canberra? I've been aware of them for a while but this head line makes me think it's a foreign thing for the Canberra area

David Eschbach 7:50 pm 05 Feb 18

That's if construction ever starts

Kristen Skinner 7:41 pm 05 Feb 18

I read in the SMH that due to government policy on wholesale gas prices prices are set to rise by an average $460 this year.

Jodie Moore 7:19 pm 05 Feb 18

Just make sure the solar company's you are using don't go bankrupt - so you lose all your warranty!

I had solar put in 3 years ago - the installers went bankrupt and so did the suppliers/manufacturers of the panels.

The system has failed twice and I have no recourse at all.

Stephen Page-Murray 7:17 pm 05 Feb 18

Induction best. Also gas is far too expensive for heating in the ACT

Archie Mac 7:17 pm 05 Feb 18

We purchased panels and were told it would provide more than enough hot water. In the summer it’s great. In the winter it’s a joke.

Gas was 100% better

    Ashley Wright 9:41 pm 05 Feb 18

    You were fibbed to. With solar hot water you still need a booster. An electric one would be cheaper than gas which these days is a joke.

    John Wilson 11:45 pm 06 Feb 18

    Evacuated tube solar hot water .. works fine for most people in all but a few cloudy winter days. Boost it with an electric heater.

    Julie Macklin 3:56 pm 07 Feb 18

    I don't know of solar hot water heaters that don't have boosters. The use of the booster though can be decreased if you work with the hot water heater not against. Evening showers for instance, before the water has had all night to cool down.

    Archie Mac 4:14 pm 07 Feb 18

    Yeah I have a booster but didn’t need to plan with gas or worry about when I had a shower

    If I knew all that I don’t think I would have bothered 😕

    Julie Macklin 5:08 pm 07 Feb 18

    Archie Mac If you have evacuated glass tubes, the amount of hot water can be increased by adding more tubes. I don't have enough tubes, but at present just turn the booster on when I need it during one or two months a year, rather than the expense of adding more tubes. A friend has more tubes on his house, and he says he rarely needs the booster; a lot less than I do. Throwing some insulation over the tank might help too, because they are often not as well insulated as they should be.

    Peter Campbell 4:51 pm 08 Feb 18

    Julie Macklin or morning showers having only had the boost for an hour or so on off-peak rates just before you get up. Then let the sun have first go for heating all day. The tank should not cool very much overnight if insulated properly.

Benjamin Challen 7:13 pm 05 Feb 18

Assuming batteries will be installed because the sun beams strongly at night time when you want the heating on and when you're cooking dinner in winter time the sun is also down?

    Ashley Wright 9:41 pm 05 Feb 18

    Still has mains which these days is cheaper than off peak. I have gas cooking and hot water in a house I built 2 years back and wish I had of went electric for the lot. Save on not having connection charge and electric cheaper than gas especially with solar which offsets peak daytime use

    Benjamin Challen 9:48 pm 05 Feb 18

    Understand the mains switch over but most power for heating would be used of an afternoon/night time I would assume most houses are empty during the day?

    John Wilson 11:42 pm 06 Feb 18

    Build a house properly and virtually say good-bye to winter heating!

    Julie Macklin 3:54 pm 07 Feb 18

    John Wilson Exactly! And NO air-conditioning needed at all in the summer. Houses like that already exist in Canberra.

Branko Frank Frković 7:12 pm 05 Feb 18

Cheaper energy bills you say? A home that costs less to run you say? A home that ptentially doesn't require ANY additional source of energy but the sun? Why would any fossil-fuel junkie want that! Ridiculous! (Tongue planted firmly in cheek)

Anne Festing 7:10 pm 05 Feb 18

Induction 100% of the time. So much safer, cleaner, quicker and able to utilise renewable energy!

Ann Chaplin 7:02 pm 05 Feb 18

Induction cooktops are wonderful, I think they are equal to or superior to gas cooktops and much cleaner.

David Brown 7:00 pm 05 Feb 18

I think that the resale value of these houses will not be high.

    Bob Worthington 7:28 pm 05 Feb 18

    I beg to differ. I think they will be worth more as gas prices go up. Also anybody with a technical bent knows you can use electricity to disassociate water into oxygen and hydrogen.

    David Brown 7:38 pm 05 Feb 18

    Do you believe that electricity prices won’t rise in parallel? I agree that PVs reduce electricity costs but, mine anyway, only work when the sun shines (doh). I buy most of my electricity at night. Same for my gas. They pay me a pittance for the power I feed into the grid.

    If I was buying a house, I would want the choice of utilities to be mine. I don’t want to defer that choice to a politician.

    Julie Macklin 5:03 pm 07 Feb 18

    David Brown Solar panels still generate some electricity when it's cloudy.

    David Brown 5:08 pm 07 Feb 18

    Julie Macklin I am sure if there is UV hitting the PVs when it is cloudy then they generate some electricity but unless you have a vast array you will be paying through the nose for the energy you buy off the grid. Unfortunately mine tend to rest once the sun has set. 😟

    Electricity generators are in big trouble. As they jack up prices more people install solar. To maintain profits, they need to further jack up the prices, making solar more attractive still. It is a death spiral. I am wondering when the government will intervene on behalf of the power companies.

    Bob Worthington 5:10 pm 07 Feb 18

    The end product will be no viable power grid.

    David Brown 5:11 pm 07 Feb 18

    Absolutely and hence my final observation.

Carolyn Spooner 7:00 pm 05 Feb 18

Ridiculous. Would turn me off buying there. Could have long term impact on prices there.

    Catherine Woodcock 7:12 pm 05 Feb 18

    Yep. Yet they will not allow trees to be cut to get efficient use of solar. What happens when the trees grow?

    Carolyn Spooner 7:16 pm 05 Feb 18

    Thatd when they turn to the underground methane from the tip that was once there. There is already a stigma to the area, why exacerbate it with ridiculous restrictions.

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