Greens Report Mandatory Gas Connection Practices to Competition Watchdog

The practice of property developers mandating gas connection and gas use in new homes is anti-competitive and should be investigated by the ACCC, according to Greens MLC, Mark Parnell.

There are at least six property developers in Mount Barker who use legal contracts to force households in new housing estates to connect to gas and use gas for space heating and hot water. These requirements are contained in enforceable “encumbrances” which are registered on the Certificate of Title and bind current and possibly future owners to use gas in their homes forever.

“This practice is clearly anti-competitive and possibly illegal because it prevents households from exercising the choice to become efficient all-electric homes. Forcing families to use gas locks them into higher energy bills and higher emissions as well.”

“If a property developer can legally force you to use gas to heat your home, that is a direct attack on your choice to use an efficient electric heat pump instead, which does the same job at a lower cost. If a new home is built as an all-electric home with a modest solar panel system, there is an average saving of $14,000 for a household over 10 years,” said Mark Parnell.

The Greens have forwarded a dossier of documents to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for investigation under s.45 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC have advised that it is now being considered by their enforcement branch to determine whether the Act applies.

“Regardless of the outcome of the ACCC investigation, I will be pursuing this issue of mandatory fossil fuel use in new homes in Parliament. Last week, I introduced a Bill to give choice back to households by declaring any compulsory gas connection arrangement to be “null and void”.

“I have also raised the matter directly with the State Planning Commission who are currently writing a new State Planning Policy on climate change. State Planning laws are also partly responsible for locking in fossil fuel use by insisting that reticulated gas be provided in new housing estates.

“To reduce our impact on the climate, we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. That was the clear message from the International Panel on Climate Change. The easiest place to start is with new homes in new housing estates before they are locked into using fossil fuels,” concluded Mark Parnell.