Improved appliance energy efficiency and rising retail gas prices is making electricity a cheaper option than gas for many homes, a report by the Alternative Technology Association has found.
The choice of gas for any property also shut the door for 100 per cent renewable energy or green power, ATA senior energy advocate Craig Memery told The Fifth Estate.
Funded by the Consumer Advocacy Panel, Are We Still Cooking with Gas? found that new homes and existing electric-only homes in Victoria, NSW, SA, QLD, the ACT and Tasmania would likely lock themselves into higher energy costs over the longer term by connecting to the gas network.
In Victoria, where $100 million is being spent to expand the reticulated gas network to rural and regional communities, the research found that despite this massive subsidy, homes would be better off with electricity and efficient electric appliances.
Mr Memery said the analysis highlighted what “utter rubbish” arguments by the coal seam gas industry that increasing supply would reduce prices for users. The majority of CSG projects were producing gas for export, he said, and this was driving up domestic retail prices.
The report does not go into the emissions reduction case for choosing electricity over gas, however Mr Memery said that when energy-efficient appliances were used – even in Victoria where brown-coal-fired power dominates supply – electricity could be up to seven times less carbon intensive than gas for cooking, heating and hot water.
“It makes no sense for any state government to spend tens of millions of dollars extending the gas network to country towns when cost-effective electric alternatives exist,” Mr Memery said.
Among a number of recommendations, the report calls for an improvement in energy concessions to address cost-of-living impacts caused by gas price rises and for the replacement of government programs to expand gas networks with ones that directly address energy affordability in regional areas.
There is the bigger sustainability picture to consider also – that gas provided to domestic and commercial premises is a non-renewable resource that produces carbon emissions, whereas Mr Memery said it was a “much easier proposition” to ensure electricity used to run efficient appliances is sourced from Green Power, small-scale solar and other zero-emissions sources.