A NEW Canberra office block that is housing around 1100 public servants is being powered by gas that directly contradicts ACT government policy on smart energy.
The government was forced to make the admission in the ACT Legislative Assembly, but Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Shane Rattenbury, excused the deal.
“This is a new policy the ACT government has brought in; this building was commissioned prior to this becoming formal government policy,” he said.
Mr Rattenbury has been urging Canberra householders for six months during the new term of the coalition government to switch from gas to a more fuel efficient electricity system.
The Greens leader’s party’s own policy states that “this government leadership will make it easier for private developers to transition gas-free developments by ensuring that all newly leased government buildings are electric”.
“That is a source of frustration for me,” Mr Rattenbury said on the new government offices.
The Capital Property Group had only won the tender to construct the $300 million public building on London Circuit back in 2016.
The government signed a 20-year lease with an additional option of a further five years that could lock in the power source for up to 2046.
The proposed Civic building was first announced in 2010, but it took a further two years to decide that the private sector should build the office and for the government to become its tenant.
When government called on expressions of interest for the development that could place more than 3000 public servants inside, Liberal leader Elizabeth Lee believed some of the eleven companies that registered interest would have submitted environmentally-friendly tenders that included the use of only electricity.
Mr Rattenbury accused Ms Lee of trying to make nothing but a “political point” on the floor on Friday (April 23).
“She is also failing as the Liberal party have done on other occasions to recognise the fact that what we are trying to create is an orderly transition of gas,” he said.
“We’re trying to start moving away and that involves making a decision now and trying to move there.
“We’re trying to make sure as a first step that no more gas is rolled out – that is the policy.
“The Liberal party have done things like say that, ‘Mr Rattenbury is going to come to your house and rip out your gas heating system’ – they have actually said that.
“That is not government policy. What we are saying to people is when your gas reaches the end of its useful life, which it will, replace it with an all-electric system.
“It’s better for the planet and it’s actually better for your bills.”
A new Dickson government office block is the first to be all electric and gas-free.
Mr Rattenbury boasted that new commercial buildings can match this “climate-friendly” standard, even though admitting they are “not as advanced” as residential homes.
“The commercial sector is at the beginning of this transition and we’re beginning to see that,” he said.
“That’s why we have spoken as widely as we can of what’s happening because we want to encourage others to look at this option to see its technically possible and it’s an affordable option.”
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