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Credit: Illustration: Badiucao
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Ensuring supply meets community demand
We replaced all of our gas appliances at our home with electric ones in 2022 and added an electric vehicle charger as part of our renovation. This year so far we have used 4.9 megawatt (MWh) hours of electricity, compared to 2.8 MWh in the whole of 2021. This is not surprising given that we have added hydronic heating, an induction cooktop and EV charging to our electricity demand.
There was a significant increase in our monthly usage from May when the hydronic heating kicked in. However, electricity that we bought from the grid for this heating was 2.4 times cheaper than what we spent on equivalent gas in prior years, mainly due to the high efficiency of our new heat pump. We were almost completely self-sufficient in electricity from January through March, importing very little from the grid. Most of it came directly from our 21 solar panels or two storage batteries. We no longer have a gas bill.
Moving from gas to electricity is the right move. However, if you multiply our experience by the 2million-plus homes in Victoria, I can foresee some significant issues for the future grid. First, almost all of our electricity consumption is in winter. Second, it almost exclusively occurs in the early morning and the evening when the heating is operating. Third, our solar panels generate a little more than 6 MWh a year, but a lot of this is generated when we do not need electricity domestically.
Andrew Rothfield, Northcote
Pity the poor businesses that will be hit hard
Banning gas connections to new homes from January 1, 2024 may be good climate policy but it is being poorly implemented. Many businesses in the supply chain (eg, manufacturers, technicians, tradesmen) have been given less than six months’ notice and they will face a significant loss of market.
Geoff Oliver, East Malvern
A well thought out decision backed by science
Unlike your correspondent (Letters, 30/7), I support the decision to ban gas installations to new homes – one which has been ridiculously delayed by political pressures. It is certainly not a “kneejerk reaction”. The science behind this need has been around for well over 50 years. Sadly the lust for profits by the fossil fuel industry has been around for longer and has proved stronger until now.
Laurie Comerford, Chelsea
The right move – but also politically expedient
There is no dispute about moving away from gas installations for new homes. However, the proposed State Electricity Commission, which is intended to speed up Victoria’s transition to renewable energy, is unlikely to be operating by January1. Are we going to experience an energy crisis? Equal consideration must be given to ensuring we have adequate supply so the community will not be inconvenienced. It seems the announcement about the move from gas to electricity is a good distraction from other concerns the Andrews government is currently facing.
Christine Baker, Rosanna
Government painting state into a dangerous corner
Will the Andrews government compensate people who have already bought gas stoves, heaters and water heating systems for their new homes? And what about all those businesses, and jobs, that will be lost by cutting gas out? Taking gas off the table makes no sense. Natural gas accounts for a quarter of the world’s electricity. Gas-fired plants can turn on and off quickly as needed. Thus gas power generation is a convenient way to respond to both seasonal and short-term demand fluctuations.
The government is painting Victoria into a very dangerous corner. What happens after the last coal-fired power station is forced to close? What is Andrews’ plan B when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining? Victorians were told power prices would come down when all the renewable power came online. Power prices are going through the roof. Any government which cannot guarantee reliable base-load power – a necessity for modern living – should resign or be removed from office.
Alan Barron, Grovedale
ABC of gas shortfalls
The chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association says “the best way to avoid shortfalls and put downward pressure on prices is to bring on new gas supply close to where it is used because the cheapest gas is the gas closest to the customer” (The Age, 29/7). It seems pretty obvious to me that the simplest way to avoid gas shortfalls is to reduce the number of appliances that use it. But I am just a maths/science teacher who is watching the northern hemisphere boil, so what would I know?
Lesley Walker, Northcote
Consumers must rebel
Supermarkets will quickly cease packaging fresh fruit and vegetables in plastic and plastic wrap if customers do not purchase them (Letters, 27/7). It is very simple to choose loose produce and use your own bags. It is up to us to make the supermarkets change their practices. A boycott of poor packaging would be a start.
Petrushka Owen, Hawthorn
Saying no to ‘scope creep’
The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games highlights our state government’s incapacity in basic project management. “Scope creep” is a cancer on any project. Once a project is costed and approved, it is typical for stakeholders and interested parties to crowd the project team with additional wants and needs.
It requires a strong project management team, and even stronger steering committee, to only consider the most compelling of these cases. To do otherwise is to consign the initiative to failure.
Time, cost and quality are the competing elements of any project and must be in equilibrium. Play around with one, and the others are impacted. Non-government enterprises have learnt how to do this. Why is it so hard for our Labor government to “get with the program”?
David Jones, Lower Templestowe
Women in control
A great article by Greg Baum about Sonja Hood and Jennifer Watt, the president and CEO respectively of the North Melbourne Football Club (Good Weekend, 29/7). Both women have broken through a glass ceiling and are firmly established in a male-dominated sport. More power to them and their (mine too) club.
Dorothy Galloway, Mentone
The sooks must stand up
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has treated our entreaty to have Julian Assange forgiven with absolute contempt (Sunday Age, 30/7). It is all one way with these so-called allies. Our progressive government just bends over and deems it OK for the US to spurn our unquestioning decades of loyalty. Labor, this is unacceptable. Let’s start taking back a few things. For example, not allowing the Americans to use facilities at the RAAF Base Tindal so readily. Let’s see how the US likes an ally with some intestinal fortitude rather than sooks like us. How right is Paul Keating?
Royce Bennett, Baxter
Our role as the junior
The prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister and attorney-general need to cut the cackle over Julian Assange and exercise a clear Australian demand to the British and the Americans for his immediate release. Failure to take the steps to act independently is ceding sovereignty and setting a template for future governing decisions by the British and Americans to apply to the junior AUKUS “partner”.
Des Files, Brunswick
PM must walk the talk
We support the comments of Bob Carr (Comment, 27/7) which reflect the urgent need for further action on Anthony Albanese’s part to prevent the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. This is an issue that will define Albanese’s legacy as a prime minister of Australia rather than for the United States.
Andrew and Jan Viney, Blairgowrie
Show us the evidence
Julian Assange published material that the US did not want in the public domain because it incriminated Americans in war crimes, including the torture of prisoners in Iraq by Coalition forces. The US has not been able to produce evidence that his leaks have endangered human lives, only “risks”. The case against Assange looks like pure vindictiveness and Australia should make a greater efforts to close down his case.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene
Try a civilised high tea
Why are there so few coffee shops open past mid-afternoon in Melbourne’s CBD (Sunday Age, 30/6)? Because that is the time for high tea, as offered in many of Melbourne’s top hotels. We have no need to copy the Americans and guzzle coffee all day.
Jan Newmarch, Oakleigh
Strong Indigenous support
It is disappointing to see media reports highlighting apparent opposition to the Voice within the Indigenous community. I understand that less than 10 of the 250 Uluru conference delegates dissented from the final document. And recent polling consistently indicates around 80per cent support for the Voice among the Indigenous community. Yes, there are a small number of vocal opponents but their views need to be seen in the context of the overwhelming general support.
Tim Mahar, Fitzroy North
We need more details
Changing the Constitution is a big deal. Yet there is very little information on how the Voice is going to operate, leading to better lives for Indigenous Australians. Is the Albanese government going about this back to front?
Cecile Campbell, East Brighton
Focus on the key issues
A number of proponents for the Yes case in the upcoming referendum have suggested that one reason to vote for the Voice is to be “on the right side of history” or that Yes voters are necessarily more decent or somehow “morally superior” to people who choose to vote No. I think it would be better if the leaders of the voice referendum concentrated more on the important substantive arguments so that voters can be as well informed as possible come referendum day.
Adrian Hassett, Vermont
Eliminating car parking
There needs to be increased height limits around inner Melbourne’s main roads and public transport routes to allow apartment blocks to be constructed. These buildings should be built with no car parking.
We have a good public transport system, car share and Uber etc which are more than adequate to service the occupants of higher-density housing. Eliminating cars from these buildings will ease congestion on roads, increase the use of public transport and encourage upgrades to it. It will also speed up construction of new developments, reduce the cost of housing in inner suburbs, slow the growth of the urban sprawl, and reduce the need for further government expenditure on infrastructure that already exists.
Allan Grosman, Red Hill South
Thank you, Benjamin Preiss (Sunday Extra, 30/7), for reminding us again of the very painful past of many people of Jewish heritage in our community. Your family still feels that pain generations down, and you and your grandmother, Sonja, provide a voice and a witness against those who would deny the Holocaust. I hope you find out more about your lost family members, for your grandmother’s sake and your children’s.
Elaine Hopper, Blackburn
Home Affairs scandal
Your correspondent asked the wrong question when he wrote, “What stopped her [former home affairs minister Karen Andrews] from doing what she thought needed to be done?” in the Home Affairs department. The correct question was, “Did someone stop her? If so, who?“
Andrew Bell, Docklands
Corrupting our democracy
Donations to political parties should only be allowed from identified individuals who are on the electoral roll. Preventing donations from property developers (Sunday Age, 30/7) and even extending that to tobacco, liquor and gambling entities would just be a minimum starting point. Democracy is about government by the people and should not be distorted by pandering to rich and powerful influences of any type. A review should have broad terms of reference and not be constrained in ways that political parties might prefer for their own interests.
Robert Brown, Camberwell
Nothing compares to her
Thank you, Michelle Griffin, for your wonderful tribute – “We needed you, crazy-brave Sinead” (Comment, 28/7). I wept, too, when I heard the news of Sinead O’Connor’s untimely passing, but I found your words a great comfort.
Margaret Bee, Kooyong
He might fit the bill
So, for the Warrandyte byelection, your correspondent wants a young, energetic, left-leaning, socially minded candidate committed to climate change action and supportive of small business (Letters, 28/7). Great news. There is such a candidate: Tomas Lightbody, Greens candidate.
Christina Bell, Ashburton
The rush to judgment
So our brave Matildas went down 2-3 to Nigeria and wouldn’t you know it, the “wise” dunces have all the answers: coach Tony Gustavsson must be replaced at once. That means that 29 coaches from the competing 32 nations ought also be replaced forthwith. Sadly, such commentating airheads are given media space. What a shame. Wouldn’t it be lovely if they could be taught the basics of sport, any sport.
Heinz Suessenbach, Hazelmere
Football’s wrong message
The fact the AFL has an “official wagering sponsor” is as socially damaging as having an official cigarette sponsor.
Huw Dann, Blackburn
AND ANOTHER THING
NZ has held onto the Bledisloe Cup for so long it’s now eligible to vote, get a beer and receive the key to the door. Happy 21st.
Brent Baigent, Richmond
Bazball versus “slowball”. For the future of Test cricket, I know which one I prefer.
Kevin Slattery, Hawthorn
As well as other strategies to reduce the likelihood of football players developing concussion, I wonder whether tackling should be eliminated.
Rita Thorpe, Coburg
“Collingwood Football Club: never give up, never surrender (29/7).” Until September.
Michael McKenna, Warragul
Assange put lives at risk, according to Blinken (30/7)? He hasn’t invaded multiple countries and killed thousands of their citizens.
David Petrie, Portland
If the AUKUS deal implodes, what about the French? At least we know they will deliver, friends or not.
Mark Kennedy, Sebastopol
A double dissolution would provide the perfect opportunity to get rid of Anthony Albanese.
Gary Oraniuk, Geelong
Home Affairs, the child of Dutton, has sadly never had a responsible mother or father to care for it.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South
With the severe climatic changes, my thoughts turn to “what if Al Gore had become president?” Those few Florida votes were disastrous.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
Cooking with gas, a thing of the past.
Jerry Koliha, South Melbourne
Why has the penny just dropped re AI? Does anyone remember “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” (2001: A Space Odyssey?)
Patrick McGrath, Riddells Creek
The film Oppenheimer is so long (three hours), there should be an intermission.
David Price, Camberwell
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