By Max Maddison
Environmental groups have branded NSW Premier Chris Minns’ decision to continue allowing gas connections to new homes “incredibly disappointing” and questioned how the state will meet its emissions reductions targets.
Less than 24 hours after Energy Minister Penny Sharpe said the government was considering the electrification of households as part of a suite of options to reduce the state’s emissions, Minns categorically put a line through the prospect, saying he did not need “another complication”.
NSW Premier Chris Minns has ruled out a ban on gas for new households.Credit: AAP
Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced on Friday new homes and government buildings would only be allowed connections to all-electric networks from January 1, 2024, as a mode of reaching the state’s net-zero emissions targets by 2045.
Minns received support from the Masters Plumbing Association (MPA) and Opposition Leader Mark Speakman, who said the time was not right to ban gas given the cost of living pressures confronting families.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW chief executive Jacqui Mumford said Victoria’s decision to ban new gas connections was good policy, and called on the Minns government to “show some vision and leadership” on decarbonising the state’s energy system.
“It’s becoming less and less clear how NSW will meet its emissions reduction targets as the premier walks away from a gas ban and entertains the idea of extending the life of the Eraring coal-fired power station,” she said.
“This is incredibly disappointing especially given we are living through the hottest July on record.”
MPA chief executive Nathaniel Smith, however, applauded the decision, labelling the recent bans in Victoria and the ACT “misguided”.
Despite warning the state government’s medium-term target of 50 per cent reduction by 2030 would be “tricky” to reach, Minns said he did not want to compound the state’s existing energy woes by implementing a ban on gas.
“We’re not pursuing that,” Minns told 2GB host Ben Fordham on Monday morning.
Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio (left) with Premier Daniel Andrews.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui
“We’re facing a situation where we need gas for industry. We’ve also got baseload power that’s coming off in the next few years and not enough renewables coming into the system. So, I don’t need another complication or another policy change, when the challenges ahead of us are so serious.”
Minns said the Victorian government’s decision to outlaw gas in new buildings was driven by “scarcity” rather than environmental or climate issues, and noted Victoria’s emissions from gas were twice that of NSW.
Minns’ position was in contrast to Sharpe, also the state’s environment minister, who on Sunday said the government was not ruling out electrification and was looking at “all the options” to reduce the state’s emissions.
“Electrification is very much part of the solution, but it’s not something that we’re ready to press go on any time soon,” she said.
The Victorian government estimated the move would save households between $1000 and $2200 (if solar was installed) off their annual energy bills. The state has the highest use of residential gas in the country, with about 80 per cent of homes using the energy source.
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