The ACT government will allocate $307 million over the next five years in its next budget towards growing the territory’s green credentials, delivering on a number of promised big battery, household solar and electric vehicle initiatives.
Announcing the plan ahead of the ACT’s 2020-21 budget, which had been postponed to allow for the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic to be assessed, the ACT Labor-Greens government said that the five-year plan would underpin the next phase of the territory’s transition to zero net emissions.
The plan includes a $150 million Sustainable Household Scheme that will provide zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 cover the costs of installing rooftop solar panels, residential battery storage, zero-emission vehicles and energy-efficient electric appliances.
An additional $100 million will be committed to delivering a ‘Big Canberra Battery’, with least 250MW in battery capacity to be installed through distributed systems across the ACT.
Registration fees for new zero-emissions vehicles will also be waived for the first two years, starting from May 2021, providing further incentive for Canberrans to purchase electric vehicles.
ACT households will also be provided with new ways to assess their electricity costs, with electricity retailers operating in the ACT to be required to provide a ‘reference bill’, that outlines the costs paid by a typical consumer, and to notify customers of plans that are lower cost.
The measures deliver upon a range of measures agreed to in a parliamentary deal between the ACT Labor and Greens parties, which were recently re-elected at an election last October, continuing a power-sharing arrangement that has seen the parties form government together since 2008.
ACT minister for energy and emissions reduction Shane Rattenbury said the measures would help the ACT reduce its emissions, while also helping households prepare for the impacts of climate change.
“Having declared a climate emergency, we’re doing what it takes to cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the ACT community to withstand the impacts of the climate change we’re already experiencing,” Rattenbury said.
“This budget commits major new investment to help Canberrans live more comfortably and sustainably, tackling the biggest pieces in our emissions puzzle with a focus on phasing out fossil fuel gas and transforming ACT transport to be zero emissions.”
“We’re aiming for an EV revolution over the next decade, with the ACT leading the transition to zero emissions transport. Free registration and no-interest loans for zero emissions vehicles, along with a new network of 50 public charging stations for electric vehicles will make EV’s a real option for Canberrans who may have been hesitant until now.”
The budget package will include a $50 million Vulnerable Household Energy Support Initiative, which will support investment in new building efficiency for social and public housing properties, low-income earners and low-efficiency rental properties.
“The budget supports the ACT’s nation-leading effort to phase out of fossil fuel gas, in line with our commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2045. It prevents gas connections in new suburbs, and offers no-interest loans for households to upgrade to efficient electric appliances,” Rattenbury added.
“Importantly, the $50 million Vulnerable Household Energy Support Initiative will also help reduce energy bills, and improve energy efficiency in public housing, rental properties and for low income owner-occupiers.”
Additional funding of $855,000 will also be dedicated to work towards phasing out the use of gas in the ACT, funding work on the territory’s sustainable energy policy and the development of new legislation to prohibit new mains gas infrastructure in greenfield residential developments.
A new Office of the Coordinator General for Climate Action will also be established, with $915,000 in funding provided over the course of two years, which will oversee the coordination of ACT government emissions reduction initiatives and monitor progress on government commitments.