The ACT Government’s Draft Variation 373 has removed the mandatory requirement for gas connections in new suburbs, allowing homes to be powered entirely by electricity.

“From today, 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,” Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said.

“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 the climate change science.

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 This rule was both outdated and not necessarily beneficial for homeowners.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

Mr Rattenbury said that not only is this good 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,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“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 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 government’s Climate Change Strategy commits to 98 actions, including:

“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 Canberra community is invited to provide comments on draft Variation 373 until 6 March 2020. The draft variation documents can be found on the EPSDD website.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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