Gas prices have risen sharply due to the Russian-Ukraine war, supply constraints and eastern Australia’s cold winter weather.
The Victorian government has been under pressure from the Greens to dump the requirement for gas to always be plumbed into new homes, with the party planning to campaign against Labor on the issue during this year’s November state election.
Tim Read, Greens climate spokesman and member for Brunswick, said it was a “pleasant surprise” that the government had released the road map after he was under the impression the plan would not appear until after the election.
However, the Brunswick MP took issue with the timing of the plan which does not phase out incentives for residential gas until 2023.
“We will see developers are quite likely to drive the change by offering gas free developments,” Read said.
He said he now wanted the government to set timelines to disconnect existing homes from gas.
“There’s not enough in terms of timelines or enthusiasm,” Read said. “Victoria really should be going a lot further and faster.”
A coalition of 31 councils – covering 39 percent of the state – endorsed a letter to the state government in May calling for planning laws to be amended to allow them to ban gas on new developments.
Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said Saturday’s announcement was a step towards ending the state’s dependence on gas, but did not rule out the potential use of hydrogen derived from fossil fuels.
“We welcome the fact that the government will no longer force the Victorians to use gas and provide greater support for people to shift to all-electric homes to do so – but that really is just the bare minimum,” La Nauze said.
Freja Leonard from Friends of the Earth Melbourne said the road map was a step in the right direction but more needed to be done.
“At a time when Victorians are paying twice as much for gas as we did last year and the world is feeling the impacts of climate change we need to stop a single new gas connection being made and support Victorian homes and businesses to rapidly move to an all-electric, post-gas energy system,” she said.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association acting chief executive Damian Dwyer warned the plan would push consumers onto coal.
“In Victoria, more than 60 per cent of electricity is still generated using higher emissions brown coal, and as has been made abundantly clear in the last month, renewables are simply not yet at high enough penetration to shoulder the load,” he said.
Victorian households can now claim a $250 bonus for comparing their current energy deal with other electricity providers through a state government website launched this week.
with Jackson Graham, AAP
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