Victoria will end incentives for residential gas products by the end of next year as it encourages residents to embrace sustainable alternatives during 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 business to switch to other energy sources.
A roadmap released Saturday outlined a plan related to electrification and improved energy efficiency and the use of hydrogen and biomethane to cut bills and cut carbon emissions.
The existing incentives for all residential gas products will be phased out by the end of 2023.
The government said the campaign is part of its plan to lower the cost of living and halve emissions by 2030.
Gas and electricity prices rose last month, leading to an unprecedented suspension of the national energy market by regulator the Australian Energy Market Operator amid shutdowns of coal-fired power plants, eastern seaboard cold spells and global gas shortages.
Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said gas is no longer the cheap fuel it once was, while renewables were the most affordable energy source.
“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 their energy bills and cut emissions in half by 2030,” she said.
Victorians use more gas in their homes and businesses than people in any other state or area, and the fossil fuel contributes about 17 percent of 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 requirement for new developments to connect to gas.
It will also offer discounts 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, can save Victorians thousands of dollars on their bills each year.
But environmentalists criticized the roadmap for lacking clear targets and timelines for the fossil fuel shift.
Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said residents expected more decisive plans to switch to 100 percent renewable energy.
“No one expects us to move off gas tomorrow, but without a clear roadmap we risk repeating the chaotic and expensive coal exit we are all going through today,” he said.
Freja Leonard of 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 they were last year and the world is feeling the effects of climate change, we need to stop building a single new gas connection and support Victorian homes and businesses to move quickly to an all-electric, post gas energy system,” she said.
Damian Dwyer, acting chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, warned the plan would push consumers toward coal.
“In Victoria, more than 60 percent of electricity is still generated from higher-emission lignite, and as has been made abundantly clear over the past month, the penetration of renewables is not yet high enough to bear the burden,” he said.