ACT details plan to ditch gas in shift to electric future

The Australian Capital Territory government has unveiled plans to phase out the use of fossil gas by 2045 at the latest and move the market towards a net zero emissions future by “electrifying Canberra with renewable electricity over the next two decades”.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has announced plans to ditch fossil gas with the release of a paper modelling the transition to the full electrification of homes and businesses in the territory by 2045.

The ACT government’s Powering Canberra: Our Pathway to Electrification position paper outlines the decision to transition away from gas as part of a phased shift from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives over the coming two decades.

ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury said fossil fuel gas currently accounts for 20% of the territory’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing Canberra’s gas reliance is a critical part of achieving the ACT’s commitment of net zero emissions by 2045.

“With a 100% renewable electricity supply, electrifying Canberra makes sense and offers the most efficient and reliable zero-emissions option for our future,” he said.

“This is a big transition, and we will ensure it happens in an orderly way. That’s why we’re making this announcement early and allowing two decades for our community to make the necessary changes.”

As part of the initial phase of the transition, new “greenfields” suburbs will no longer be connected to gas mains, and from 2023 new gas connections will cease for future infill developments.

The government is also developing an Integrated Energy Plan for release by 2024 which will establish the foundations for the transition and also consider the use of renewable gas in niche applications.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Image: Supplied

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the plan will ensure the territory maintains a “secure, reliable, and increasingly sustainable energy system” into the future and helps the community to plan their switch at a time that is right for them.

“We know there will be costs associated with the transition away from gas, which is why we are giving people certainty now so that the transition can happen gently over the next two decades.” he said.

“This is a long-term and gentle transition and we’re not switching off the gas network overnight … this will be a staged and managed transition.”

Barr said there are government supports and incentives available now for those ready to upgrade from gas to efficient electric appliances including the Sustainable Household Scheme, Home Energy Support Program and Business Water and Energy Program.

The move to ditch gas comes after the ACT last month announced plans to phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles with the government announcing plans to put the brakes on the sale of new petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles from 2035.

Rattenbury said the ban will initially apply to new light vehicles, including passenger cars, motorcycles, and small trucks. It will also be backed up by an EV sales target, with between 80 to 90% of new vehicle sales in 2030 to be zero-emission models.

The ACT government’s plan to move away from fossil gas follows a similar move by the Victorian state government which last month unveiled plans designed to end the state’s reliance on the fossil fuel.

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