Invermay 'too expensive' to connect to natural gas

INVERMAY’S four-year wait for natural gas will continue with the owner of Western Victoria’s gas network describing the town as “too expensive” to connect.

AusNet Services, formerly SP AusNet, recently agreed to connect Avoca, Winchelsea, Bannockburn and Huntly to its natural gas system, however it deems Invermay unviable. 

“There’s a cost impediment with extending the network into Invermay,” a spokesperson for AusNet Services said. 

The spokesperson said other companies from outside Victoria’s gas network, which had new, more cost-effective connection innovations, would need to work with the state government to connect the town. 

In 2010, the Coalition government committed $100 million over four years to extend natural gas across regional Victoria, with 13 towns earmarked to go first, including Invermay and Avoca. 

Invermay Progress Association president Ian Martin said residents queried the economic viability of connecting a small town under the government’s Energy for the Regions program in 2010.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the principle involved. I’m sick of people saying things and not pulling through,” he said. 

“I’m not politically aligned one way or another, but I hate dishonest politicians.” 

The Courier reported in July that the tender process to connect Invermay would be completed within six weeks. 

A spokesperson for Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the “detailed and complex negotiations around the tender are continuing”, however the government remained confident of bringing the energy source to the town. 

The owner of Victoria’s other two natural gas networks – Envestra and Multinet Gas – both told the Courier they had no plans to apply for the Invermay contract.

“One of the problems we have is we are not spoken to at all,” Mr Martin said. 

“We understand because of the developments out there it’s (natural gas) going to be expensive to put in, so that’s why we are proposing alternatives like subsidising bottled gas.”

Mr Martin said because of the small number of properties in Invermay, most contractors would struggle to make money after connecting the gas. 

“Natural gas is in Doveton street (Ballarat), so it’s not far away,” he said.

william.vallely@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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