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.
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“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.