Following the release of Draft Variation 373, the ACT Government has removed the mandatory requirement for gas connections to new suburbs,  allowing new housing developments to be all electric. 

New suburbs will have the opportunity to be powered by the ACT’s 100 per cent renewable electricity supply, meaning zero emissions and cheaper utility bills for residents.

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said, “We have removed the requirement for new suburbs to have a gas connection. This makes it possible for new suburbs to be zero emissions, and is an important step in combating climate change. 

“The fact is, natural gas is a polluting fossil fuel and we must eventually phase it out in favour of clean energy. The ACT Government is plotting a sensible path to zero greenhouse gas emissions, in line with climate change science.”

Mr Rattenbury said that prior to the Draft, the ACT was the only state or territory to require mandated gas connections in new suburbs. 

“This rule was both outdated and not necessarily beneficial for homeowners.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 per cent renewable electricity achievement,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This is the right thing to do for the planet, but it is also good for household bills. For example, using efficient reverse-cycle air conditioning can reduce household energy bills by around $500 per year compared to gas heating, and an electric heat pump hot water system can lower energy bills by around $150 per year.

“An estimated 22 per cent of the ACT’s total carbon emissions come from natural gas, making it the second biggest source after transport emissions. 

“The ACT Government has a plan to reduce the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045, tackling polluting areas such as gas, transport and waste.”

The ACT Government’s Climate Change Strategy commits the government to 98 actions, including:

  • Develop a plan for achieving zero emissions from gas use by 2045, including setting timelines with appropriate transition periods for phasing out new and existing gas connections
  • Support gas to electric appliance upgrades, including trialling facilitating access to interest-free loans or other innovative finance for gas to electric upgrades
  • Expand the enormously successful Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme to increase support for low-income priority households and further encourage a shift from gas to efficient electric appliances.

“The government is also exploring opportunities for using other clean alternatives to natural gas, such as hydrogen produced from renewable electricity. We expect to open Australia’s first public hydrogen vehicle refuelling station early this year,” Mr Rattenbury said.

In January 2018, a Gas Price Trends Review showed that an increasing number of Canberrans were already making the switch away from gas, with a clear downward trend in household gas consumption. 

Average annual household gas consumption has dropped by 22 per cent since 2010, and the proportion of ACT households using gas for space heating fell from 60 per cent in 2011 to 45 per cent in 2014.

The ACT Government is calling for community feedback on draft Variation 373 until 6 March 2020. The draft variation documents can be found on the EPSDD website here.


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