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Victoria reveals roadmap for switch from natural gas to cheaper, greener renewables

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Victoria expects the transition from natural gas to green hydrogen and bio-methane will slash consumer costs. Photo: TND
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Victoria will end incentives for residential gas products by the end of next year as it encourages residents to embrace sustainable alternatives amid a national energy crisis.

The state government said new incentives were being developed to help the two million people who used gas at home or in their businesses shift to other energy sources.

A roadmap released on Saturday outlined a plan involving electrification and improved energy efficiency and the use of hydrogen and biomethane to help reduce bills and cut carbon emissions.

Existing incentives for all residential gas products will be phased out by the end of 2023.

The government said the campaign was part of its plan to drive down the cost of living and halve emissions by 2030.

Gas and electricity prices spiked last month leading to an unprecedented suspension of the national energy market by the Australian Energy Market Operator amid coal-fired power station shutdowns, cold snaps across the east coast and global gas shortages.

Renewables’ lower cost

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said gas was no longer the cheap fuel it once was while renewables were the most affordable source of energy.

“Victorians have been at the mercy of private gas companies for too long, it’s time to put gas on the back-burner as we help Victorians cut energy bills and halve emissions by 2030,” she said.

Victorians use more gas in their homes and businesses than people in any other state or territory and the fossil fuel contributes around 17 per cent to the state’s net greenhouse gas emissions.

The government plans to remove barriers to all-electric homes and new developments by eliminating the current planning scheme requirement for new developments to be connected to gas.

It will also offer rebates to owners of existing homes to replace gas hot water systems or ducted heating systems.

The roadmap states that all-electric new homes with solar panels, for example, could save Victorians thousands of dollars each year on their bills.

But environmental campaigners criticised the roadmap for lacking clear goals and timelines for the shift away from fossil fuels.

Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said residents expected more decisive plans to shift to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Risk of chaos

“Nobody expects us to get off gas tomorrow but without a clear roadmap we risk repeating the chaotic and costly coal exit we are all enduring today,” he said.

“With Victorians already facing extreme gas prices and the recent strong vote for climate action at the federal election, we had hoped and expected the Victorian government to go further towards ending our state’s gas dependence.”

Freja Leonard from Friends of the Earth Melbourne said the roadmap 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.

-AAP