The ACT will become host to a gas-free suburb

The ACT’s master-planned Ginninderry development will trial a gas-free residential precinct comprising 350 homes.

According to the ACT government, the homes in the precinct will be built to high sustainability standards, including being energy-positive, with solar panels and smart meters mandatory.

Aside from making environmental sense (particularly with the ACT’s move to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020), going gas free promises to make economic sense for residents.

Climate change and sustainability minister Shane Rattenbury said modelling for the pilot found that households would save more that $14,000 using electrical appliances over gas ones (over their lifetime).

The trial will be facilitated through a variation to the Territory Plan, removing the requirement for gas to be provided to stage 1 of the development. During the trial the precinct will be assessed to make sure it complies with grid security requirements and meets consumer needs.

The government said the trial would also ensure higher design and insulation standards are set for any future proposals.

Ginninderry sustainability manager Jessica Stewart said it was exciting to be part of a project “not afraid to be a leader in the field of energy systems”.

“It makes sense for new houses to optimise the use of renewable power through a suite of highly efficient electric appliances.”

ACT already starting transition

ACT residents already seem to be turning away from gas, however.

Last month, a Gas Price Trends review showed that Canberrans were beginning the switch, with average annual household gas consumption down 22 per cent since 2010 and 13 per cent since 2015.

Gas connections have also reduced slightly from 70 per cent of households in 2010 to 67.9 per cent of households in 2014. And the use of gas for space heating has gone from 60 per cent in 2011 to 45 per cent in 2014.

“When it comes to gas, Canberrans are making a clear choice,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The report shows a clear downward trend in household gas consumption, with the ACT way out in front of other jurisdictions in the race to reduce gas use.

“While the reasons for this may include the overall increase in gas cost, the penetration of solar panels into ACT households and a strong increase in the level of efficiency in electric heaters, it is great news for the environment.”

With the ACT going to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020, gas is set to emerge as a key battleground for further emissions reductions.

“We strongly promote the move away from gas to electricity because the territory’s electricity supply will be emissions free by 2020 as we reach our target of 100 per cent renewable electricity,” Mr Rattenbury said.

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