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Heat on Government to halt gas roll-out to new suburbs

Ian Bushnell 13 June 2019 22

Extending gas network is at odds with ACT’s emissions ambitions.

It’s time for the Government to halt the roll-out of gas infrastructure to new suburbs as the ACT aims for zero emissions by 2045, according to the Conservation Council ACT Region.

The council says the Government, which recently announced help for Canberrans to switch from gas-ducted heating systems to energy efficient electric heating, needs to be consistent with its policies.

It says the move is welcome but completely at odds with Government laws that mandate gas infrastructure to all new homes in the ACT, except for the Ginninderry development where the gas requirement has been waived for the first 350 homes.

Executive Director Helen Oakey said the ACT was the only jurisdiction in Australia that mandated gas infrastructure for every house in its planning law.

“Given our ambitious zero emissions climate change target, this must stop,” she said. “The Government should in fact stop all new gas infrastructure being rolled out. We are throwing good money at a network that is likely to have a limited life, and the costs will be passed onto those who remain on the gas network.

“It has already been shown that when residents install new technologies like solar and heat pumps, they don’t want to connect their houses to the gas network.”

Ms Oakey said the burden of the infrastructure costs fell to those who did connect or who were still connected in older suburbs. Connecting new houses to the gas network also encouraged new home owners to invest in out-dated appliances that run on gas, which will cost them money when they switch to electric in the future.

“There are so many benefits to giving up gas – the financial incentive of not paying two connection charges, that you are no longer using fossil fuels to run your home, and having access to clean, safe technology like induction cooktops and heat pumps for hot water and heating and cooling (split systems),” she said.

“Many people think that their air-conditioners are for summer only, but using split systems for heating is very efficient. These technologies can be used to heat just one or two rooms, or your whole house.

“The ACT Government has a high level of ambition to reduce greenhouse emissions and respond to the climate emergency, and has put some great programs in place to support ACT residents to reduce their household emissions. In that context, continuing to invest our money in gas infrastructure is wasted.”

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said last year when announcing the Ginninderry trial 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).”

The Government said in its statement at the time that the lessons of the trial could be applied to other developments in the ACT to bring advances in sustainability, more affordable living and greater customer choice.


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22 Responses to Heat on Government to halt gas roll-out to new suburbs
Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:53 pm 20 Jun 19

We are happy to be off gas. Heat pump heating worked very well with barely any increase to our electricity costs through last winter and a substantial saving from no longer paying for gas. I did the sums based on our actual gas consumption, heat pump coefficient of performances, the costs of the gas supply charge and conversion of MJ to kWh to get equivalent units and so on. I expected to come out substantially ahead by getting off gas and after one and a half winters, it seems to be working out as expected.

We went onto gas many years ago in part because it produced fewer emissions than electricity coming mainly from coal. Now the situation is reversed. With the ACT close to its 100% renewable electricity generation target and efficient heat pumps, it no longer makes sense to be burning fossil fuel.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:42 pm 17 Jun 19

“Ginninderry does have gas infrastructure – they just aren’t connecting the pipes to homes.”

That “infrastructure” is the unknown pockets of land fill methane trapped underground as a result of large areas of that development being on the site of one of Canberra’s old garbage tips.

aronde aronde 4:36 pm 17 Jun 19

Our last house had reverse cycle aircon and on the minus 5 mornings it took ages to pump any warm air out (if at all). Is that still the case or did we just have dodgy system (renting at the time). Ducted gas in current house is awesome no matter what temp is outside!

    Maya123 Maya123 6:07 pm 17 Jun 19

    My mother has a reverse cycle air-conditioner and hers works okay.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:45 pm 17 Jun 19

    In those extreme (climate change?) conditions you need to run a 2400w electric bar heater concurrent with the heat pump system for a short time only until the return air is warmer.

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 10:08 pm 16 Jun 19

Cutting the gas off has saved me a heap of money. Very happy to have made that move.

Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 8:27 pm 16 Jun 19

Ginninderry does have gas infrastructure - they just aren’t connecting the pipes to homes.

Ben Oostermeyer Ben Oostermeyer 8:21 pm 16 Jun 19

That would suck. Gas cooking is awesome and, genuinely highly desirable for some ethnicity’s who cook “low and slow” but also use flame as an essential part of preparing some foods.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:05 pm 16 Jun 19

    You can connect bottled gas. My parents used to have bottled gas connected to the house. Personally I find it hard to control gas stoves. They can't be turned down low to simmer, or at least the several gas stoves I have tried to do this on, have not been able to. The flame went out each time.

    Ben Oostermeyer Ben Oostermeyer 9:55 pm 16 Jun 19

    true that. I have bottled gas because I am rural. Our old range used to be quite unreliable. The oven went out if you turned it down after preheating. The new one is flawless. Gotta use the right burner to get the right low heat. Not all units have flame fail safety feature but ours does. Essential when using LPG/bottle gas as it is heavier than LNG, settles in low points and poses a higher explosion risk than LNG/mains gas. The latter is probably a good and better reason than any other to supply LNG rather than have half a suburb hooked up to bottle gas. Also the rules around where you can locate a bottle are quite arduous and I would expect most houses would not be able to provide a suitable location for a bottle esp given the close proximity of houses in new developments these days. Aside from that, bottles would need to be located somewhere they can easily be accessed to replace or refill. I can imagine what might happen when a household runs out of gas but is a bit short on cash/doesn’t want to pay/can’t wait for a refill.

    Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 10:05 pm 16 Jun 19

    Ben Oostermeyer when I switched from gas to induction electric cooking I was hoping itvwould be as good as gas but for me it is better. Hotter on high, lower on low and precise instant control. Took a while to stop setting it two hot but loving it now.

    Ben Oostermeyer Ben Oostermeyer 10:26 pm 16 Jun 19

    Tim Thornley I’ve heard the same about induction but you still can’t cook naan bread without a flame. Old habits die hard and the truth is that many of our new suburbs are being populated by ppl who simply prioritise gas cooking for cultural reasons.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 6:10 pm 20 Jun 19

    When we got off gas, we got an induction cooktop. It gets our wok sizzling hot almost instantly. It turns down lower than we ever achieved with gas for slow cooking. The smooth glass top is far easier to clean. I would not go back to cooking with gas.

Maya123 Maya123 7:26 pm 16 Jun 19

When my house was built a few years ago, the architect wanted to include gas, but I said I wanted it all electric. So pleased I did. My solar panels generate more electricity than I use, even in winter. Having gas for only boosting the solar hot water for one or two months a year, and then needing to pay a basic connection fee, for something to be used for only a couple of months each year, didn’t make sense.

Gilavon Gilavon 3:31 pm 16 Jun 19

Agree with John Moulis. Fed up with hearing vested interests pushing their barrows.

You will have credibility only when you can guarantee a 100% electrified energy system will be 100% reliable 24/7/30/365.

You will never be able to do that so a fallback energy system will always be necessary to 1. Guarantee reliable supply and 2. Maintain competition to dissuade unreasonable price increases by a monopoly supplier.

Do you think the majority of consumers would fall for your proposal?

David Brown David Brown 1:13 pm 16 Jun 19

Well, that will make the houses more affordable.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:55 pm 15 Jun 19

“The ACT Government has a high level of ambition to reduce greenhouse emissions and respond to the climate emergency, blah blah blah…”

Helen, the game is up. Using scary terms like “climate emergency” is all the more ludicrous after the Federal election. Trying to deny new home buyers basic energy needs so you can pursue some airy fairy, utopian dream of renewable energy is just straight-out irresponsible. Or do you and your fellow green travellers really want us all to live in caves like we always suspected?

Really, this has gone way beyond a joke and it is time to stop the nonsense once and for all. I’m sick of it, we’re all sick of it.

    JS9 JS9 8:58 am 17 Jun 19

    Rightly or wrongly, just like you John, Helen is allowed to have their opinion.

    Your comment is quite disrepectful to be perfectly honest about it. There is disagreeing and then there is being just plain rude.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:45 pm 17 Jun 19

    Me too!

    A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 9:23 pm 20 Jun 19

    Would you like the government to encourage you to burn coal in a grate for heating? Seriously!? It is beyond any reasonable dispute that we need to reduce our fossil fuel burning. This will only happen with governments making that easier.

    Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 7:57 pm 24 Jun 19

    What? aren’t you already taking cold showers John? There was a bloke in the paper who just has a dip in LBG. I bet Ms Oakey only has a cold bath every Sunday whether she needs one or not.

    Back in 1945, my late father bought a chip heater for the family bath with his first ever paypacket. He reckoned the shared water with the other 11 in his family was much nicer warmed up, especially when he was the youngest boy and got in last.

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 12:22 pm 15 Jun 19

What became of clean natural gas?

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