In the past gas has been a cheap and reliable fuel for Victorians. Gas has been used for heating, hot water and cooking in homes and business. But, the cost of gas has increased and as a fossil fuel it releases greenhouse gas emissions.
To reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45 to 50% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, the Victorian Government has developed a Gas Substitution Roadmap.
Council made a submission to the Roadmap and outlined how Merri-bek is already acting to replace gas with electric appliances from both Council operations and our community. Support from the Victorian Government would assist with switching to all-electric.
The submission is part of our advocacy for a Zero Carbon Merri-bek by 2040. Our vision is for homes and businesses to be powered by renewable electricity, and to phase-out of gas.
Accelerating to a net zero emissions economy will enable the Victorian State Government to meet its own legislated whole-of-economy, net zero emissions target by 2050, as well as renewable energy targets, be responsive to climate change and avoid lock-in gas consumption (or stranded assets) such as through the removal of requirements to connect to gas infrastructure in new developments and introduce requirements for zero emissions infrastructure. The phasing out of gas is an opportunity for Victoria to position itself as leaders attracting businesses, jobs, investment, and innovation to Victoria. The next decade will be critical in meeting net zero by 2050.
Council recommendations to the Victorian Government are:
1. Provide funding to local councils to remove gas from sites with high consumption, such as aquatic centres.
2. Invest in energy efficiency in existing buildings and homes. It is a “no regrets” measure that reduces demand for heating, reduces bills and improves comfort.
3. Provide industry training for plumbers and electricians in the installation of technologies such as heat pumps, draught proofing and insulation to reduce gas demand and improve thermal comfort.
4. Encourage distributors to make the process of upgrading sub-stations more transparent and less costly for first-movers who transition sites from gas to all-electric.
5. Provide modelling on future gas prices to assist Councils in making informed decisions on capital investments.
6. Work with distributors, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to address network constraints and plan for a renewable future. This will enable the export of solar linked with the increased demand due to electrification. This will be one of the key barriers to Victoria achieving its legislated targets under the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Act 2017 (REJI Act),
7. With the roll out of the Victorian Solar Homes Program and increased uptake of solar more broadly, export limitations are becoming a disincentive for residents and businesses to install solar. We encourage the Victorian Government to work with Distributed Network Service Providers (DNSPs) and AEMO/AER to address this matter.
8. Support and approve the Elevating ESD Targets Planning Policy Amendment Project that includes sought after changes to ensure further uptake of electrification, renewable energy and gas-free development practices.
9. Ensure that fuel switching and gas-free development requirements and standards are adopted within revised ESD changes to the Victorian Government’s Planning framework (Action 80 of Plan Melbourne 2050) cognisant of the enabling scope that is provided within the Victorian Government’s Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Roadmap, as well as, commitments detailed within the Victorian Government’s Climate Change Strategy, Pledges and Adaptation Action Plans exercised pursuant to the Climate Change Act 2017 (Vic).
10. Continue existing liaison between Local Government, DELWP and other respective State Government authorities, including working groups, to ensure a collaborative undertaking, knowledge sharing and project findings, and support with ancillary projects to achieve mutual outcomes.
11. Develop information resources and funded educations campaigns ensuring it reaches people from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
12. Provide education training for builders, architects, building designers and other building professionals who consumers refer to for advice.
13. Develop an online calculator demonstrating savings from switching showing savings over the medium to long term.
14. Provide “myth busting” educational materials and good case studies of alternatives – e.g. induction cooktops are just as good (now) as gas cooktops.
15. Utilise the findings and success of programs such as the Victorian Energy Smart, Healthy Homes and Energy Savvy Programs and support the expansion of well-designed programs to provide financial and concierge support for low income.
16. Utilise the findings of the Healthy Homes program to set standards to improve the thermal efficiency of new public and social housing to improve the health and wellbeing of residents as well as reduce their energy bill stress.