Gas connections will no longer be required for new Canberra suburbs, with the ACT Government releasing a draft variation removing the mandatory requirement.
“The fact is, natural gas is a polluting fossil fuel and we must eventually phase it out in favour of clean energy,” said ACT Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Shane Rattenbury.
“Previously gas connections were mandated in new suburbs, and the ACT was the only Australian state or territory to require this. This rule was both outdated and not necessarily beneficial for homeowners.
“Removing the requirement for gas will see more Canberrans using electricity instead of gas, taking advantage of the ACT’s world-leading 100% renewable electricity achievement.”
Minister Rattenbury said moving away from gas can see a reduction in household bills, and said a number of Canberrans were already switching from gas, with the average annual household gas consumption dropping by 22% since 2010.
The Conservation Council ACT Region has labelled the move a “positive step” but said the ACT Government has wasted the opportunity.
“Removing the requirement to put gas into every new development is a positive step, but the Government will miss a great opportunity to prevent the further rollout of the gas network in the ACT going forward, something that would be consistent with their ambitious 2045 zero emissions target,” said executive director Helen Oakey.
“We know from previous experience that removing the mandate alone won’t necessarily stop Evoenergy from proceeding with the rollout of new pipes into suburbs.
“The ACT Government has acknowledged that we are facing a climate emergency, the only state-territory jurisdiction to do so. This was the perfect opportunity for them to take action to ensure that all new developments from here on run on 100% renewable electricity and make it easier to reach our zero emissions target.”
The ACT Government plans to achieve “zero emissions from gas use” by 2045, through phasing out new and existing gas connections, gas-to-electric appliance upgrades and an expanded Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS) to increase support for low income priority households.
The draft variation is open for public comment until 6 March 2020; visit act.gov.au/draftvariations