IT’S been a long time coming but most of Heathcote is about to be cooking with gas — and without a gas bottle.
The final stages of the hook-up to deliver natural gas to nearly every household are under way.
The 12km natural gas network is expected to go live on November 1, with residents being encouraged to apply for a natural gas connection now.
A total of 635 premises in the town will be eligible to tap into the network, which could be expanded depending on conversations between residents and Brookfield Infrastructure.
Nationals member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the gas promised benefits for residents and businesses in town.
“One of the major things which is a big plus of the natural gas coming here is the traditional heating in homes has been solid wood fire,” Ms Ryan said.
“With our ageing population here, having natural gas means people can move away from that and onto an easier way to stay warm in winter.”
While those who aren’t in the reach of the network will have to continue to rely on bottled gas, Ms Ryan said there was the opportunity to extend the network.
“If there are residences on the periphery of the network that haven’t connected, they will need to get their neighbours on board so their street can justify the cost to the company to extend it further,” she said.
“The company has done what they can economically, and if people want it extended further they’ll need to have a conversation with the company to see if it’s viable.”
Heathcote Tourism and Development president Peter Maine said access to natural gas gives the town a competitive advantage.
“Historically, the availability of natural gas has been a strong driver in bringing industry into a region,” Mr Maine said.
“So I’m delighted we now have the ability for businesses to connect to natural gas. It’ll make a big difference to Heathcote.
“But it’s a major plus for residents, too. It’s impossible to run a central heating system on bottled gas, so this lets people switch over for a cheaper way to heat their home.”
The project was originally promised for 2010 but was delayed after a lack of support from surrounding MPs .
Ms Ryan said the rollout of natural gas to Heathcote was instigated and funded by the Nationals when last in government.
“It was the Nationals in Coalition who established the Energy for Regions Fund to subsidise Brookfield Infrastructure to come up with an innovative solution to provide gas to Heathcote,’’ she said.
“Labor repeatedly rubbished the program, with the member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan saying our plan to roll out gas to Heathcote was a ‘monstrous hoax’.’’