27th February 2020
Evoenergy’s Gas Plan good… but not good enough
The Conservation Council ACT Region today welcomed Evoenergy’s plans to halt the expansion of the gas network into new Canberra suburbs as outlined in their 2021-26 Draft Plan to the Australian Energy Regulator, but warned against considering further market expansion in the ACT including hooking up multi-unit developments to the gas network.
The network operator has released their 5 year plan for Access Arrangements for the gas network to the AER for the period 2021-26, outlining what they will spend and how costs will be recovered over that period. The Draft plan has today been released for public consultation on Evoenergy’s website.
“We support Evoenergy’s analysis that, when it comes to rolling out gas infrastructure to new suburbs in Canberra, it’s not business as usual, and welcome their proposal to stop the gas rollout into Canberra’s new suburbs,” said Helen Oakey, Executive Director of the Conservation Council.
“Gas is a polluting fossil fuel and contributes to 22% of the ACT’s greenhouse emissions. Given the urgent action we must take to reduce carbon emissions, and the ACT Government’s commitment to zero net emissions by 2045, it’s clear that cutting emissions from the use of gas is high on the agenda.
“The first step to transition from gas to renewable electricity across the city is to stop rolling out new gas infrastructure – not only is it a cost we don’t need but it risks locking people into appliances and technologies that create greenhouse emissions and may not be viable into the future.
“While Evoenergy have proposed spending $25m less on gas infrastructure in new suburbs, they aren’t taking the same approach in established suburbs, proposing $34.8m of capital expenditure for “market expansion” that includes hooking up new multi-unit developments.
“As Canberra’s density increases, building new multi-unit developments that rely on gas is irresponsible, particularly given the policy direction of the ACT Government, and risks locking unit dwellers into using polluting fossil fuel well into the future.
“In addition, switching multi-unit developments from gas to all-electric after construction is likely to be more difficult than stand-alone houses, given the possible lack of space available for water tanks and heat pumps, and centralised metering which may make it harder for individuals to make a more sustainable choice.
“It’s clear that the ACT Government needs to send a stronger policy signal to Evoenergy prior to this 2021-2025 Plan being adopted – that is, stop all new residential hookups in established suburbs.
“The ACT Government should set a clear timetable to move from gas to electricity so that the transition can be undertaken smoothly, at lowest cost to consumers, and in a way that supports those who may not be able to afford new appliances,” said Ms Oakey.
The Conservation Council has called on the ACT Government to:
- Urgently set a clear timetable for transitioning off natural gas to ensure homeowners, suppliers, tradespeople, developers and managers of medium-large gas-run appliances are given fair warning to ensure any appliance upgrades are all-electric.
- Stop the rollout of gas infrastructure to new suburbs developments in Canberra
- Stop newly built residences in established suburbs from installing gas appliances and reconnecting to the gas network.
- Disallow gas connections in new multi-unit developments.
- Support the transition of residences in established suburbs to replace ageing gas appliances with energy efficient electric appliances over the next 10 years.
- Undertake a full review of the ownership of the gas network, the costs of writing down the network asset (should it be required) and how the costs will be shared equitably across the community without disadvantaging those who are least able to afford it.
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