The Victorian government is set to weigh up a moratorium on new gas connections for homes. It is also considering ditching regulations that force new buildings to connect to the gas network, after a landmark parliamentary committee report was handed down last week.

Last Wednesday, the state upper house’s Environment and Planning Committee tabled its report on renewable energy in Victoria, with a number of the key recommendations focusing on the need to remove gas appliances from buildings.

In Victoria, the state government is required to respond in writing to the recommendations made by any Legislative Council committee within six months.

The renewable energy inquiry is in addition to the Gas Substitution Roadmap the state government is planning to release sometime in the coming months. That policy will set out a strategy for using building electrification, hydrogen and biogas to cut carbon emissions from gas.

The Andrews government’s moves in the area of building electrification are vital, because Victoria accounts for more than one third (37 per cent) of all domestic gas use in the East Coast Gas Market. 

Transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy is the only thing that will shield Victorians from both unaffordable energy bills and runaway climate change.

Bronya Lipski, Environment Victoria

The report recommends that the state’s planning policy framework should be updated to a minimum 7-star Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) energy efficiency rating, with incentives for developers to adopt the higher energy efficiency standards. 

It suggests that the state government should introduce community education campaigns to encourage residents and businesses to move off gas, along with new information and consultation services through local governments to help people make the transition.

The report also recommends: 

  • updating the minimum standards for rental properties as part of the Gas Substitution Roadmap
  • providing incentives to businesses to encourage them to switch away from gas
  • enhancing programs to help disadvantaged groups move away from gas

Since 2014, total gas consumption in Victoria has varied between 200-230 petajoules per year. Currently, there are 2.050 million residential households connected to the gas network in Victoria, along with 64,600 commercial and more than 600 industrial premises.

In a statement Bronya Lipski, Environment Victoria policy and advocacy manager said transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy is the only thing that will shield Victorians from both unaffordable energy bills and runaway climate change.

“With a federal government now committed to facilitating rather than obstructing the transition, Victoria has the opportunity to ramp up our renewables rollout, provide transition certainty to communities like Latrobe Valley, and prove to the world that our state is both serious and ambitious as a leader in meeting the global challenge to mitigate climate change.

“Both in Victoria and federally following last weekend’s election – it’s increasingly clear that now is the time for fast-tracking the renewable transition. Victoria needs to get on with the job of creating thousands of new direct renewable energy jobs and leaving Victorian households financially better off.”

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