New gas connections to buildings in the ACT are to be banned in eight days. The territory government has announced that the new "no new gas" rule will apply from Friday next week.
It has given some leeway for development applications lodged before March next year through "transitional arrangements".
"The regulation will apply to all residential buildings, commercial land-use zones and community facility zones," Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury said.
"This is because residential buildings and other buildings in these areas can be electrified right now as the technology and skills to support electrification already exists."
The territory government estimates that a third of households in Canberra have homes powered only by electricity.
When the law was passed, Mr Rattenbury said: "The first step in phasing out gas completely is to prevent the installation of any new gas."
He believed that the ACT was leading the rest of Australia in measures to head off or soften global warming.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said at the time: "All-electric buildings are not only a better choice for the environment, but they're also better for future building users, and will save people money on energy costs."
Calculating whether gas or electricity is cheaper is complicated. The Australian Energy Regulator said that both electricity and gas prices had fallen from record highs in the past year.
But it warned that demand for electricity was likely to rise and that demand for gas to fall (implying upward pressure on electricity prices).
The regulator's 2023 report says: "As more states and territories seek to shift drivers of gas demand into electricity demand, for example replacing gas heating with reverse cycle air-conditioning, demand pressure will ease in gas markets and grow in electricity markets."
Mr Rattenbury said that next week's ban on new gas installations was necessary so that households didn't have gas heating installed and then have to get rid of it later.
"The ACT government knows the cost to upgrade from gas to electric appliances can be costly for households and businesses, so we want avoid these costs as much as possible by building all-electric from here on. Households and businesses can avoid costly retrofits by going all electric from the beginning," he said in a press release.
The aim of the ACT government is to be "net zero" by 2045 (net zero means the ACT not producing any global warming gases - including from cars and transport - or having other offset measures (like planting trees which absorb carbon dioxide to offset those emissions)).
Mr Rattenbury said that banning gas in homes was "an important step to reaching net zero emissions by 2045".
There has been concern, however, that banning new gas installations while Australia retains coal-fired power stations could actually increase demand for coal-generated electricity.
In March, the head of the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association Steve Davies said that every Canberra home that electrified would increase the territory's reliance on NSW coal-fired generation - and so increase overall emissions.
- Record rooftop solar slashes wholesale energy prices
- ACT government opens public consultation on plan to ban new gas connections
- Cheaper electricity expected to drive move away from natural gas as Canberra eyes net-zero by 2045
- Canberra households expected to switch off gas sooner, as ban looms, survey finds
Industrial users of gas have also expressed concerns about phasing out the fuel.
At Canberra Glassworks, artists manipulate glass into desired shapes by heating the material to more than 1300 degrees inside a burning hot furnace.
"The glass is actually on the end of a steel post - you can't put a steel post into a type of furnace that's electric because we'll lose all our glassblowers," the business' chief executive Elizabeth Rogers said.
"They'd be electrocuted."