Time to get on board with electric vehicles

By Rob Altemeyer - MLA for Wolseley

As published in The Metro

March 17, 2017

Have you ever travelled in an electric vehicle?

Don’t worry if the answer is "no," you’re not alone. Despite their many advantages, electric buses and cars are only a tiny fraction of the total number of vehicles on our roads. I’d like to change that, and with your help I think we can do it.

Just last month, I held a press conference calling on the provincial government to provide no-interest loans to municipalities, to help make electric buses more affordable. I also suggested that the same no-interest loans should be available to individual Manitobans, so that it’s easier to go electric when they need a new car.

Electric vehicles offer many important benefits. In Manitoba, transportation creates over 7 million tonnes of CO2 per year, more than one-third our annual total. Because our electricity is 98 per cent fossil fuel free, every time we replace a gasoline car or diesel bus with an electric one, it makes a big difference.

Electric vehicles are more expensive up front but cost very little to operate. Ross Redman, who lives right here in Wolseley, has driven his electric car year-round in Winnipeg for the last five years. Ross pays between $75 to $80 per year for "fuel," and yes, you read those numbers correctly. When a transit agency uses electric buses, they can use the savings to purchase more buses, reduce passenger wait times, or reduce fares.

The four electric buses you see on Winnipeg streets were actually designed and built right here in Winnipeg. Our previous NDP government brought multiple partners together for this effort, including local bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries. When local governments purchase these electric buses, good green jobs are the result.

We don’t refine any fossil fuels in Manitoba, so all the gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas we burn is imported. As a result, between $2 billion and $3 billion "leak" out of our economy each year. Using made-in-Manitoba electricity means that money stays here instead.

Rather than scare people with talk of massive Hydro rate increases, the provincial government should help citizens, agencies and businesses switch from fossil fuels to electricity. This improves Hydro’s revenues while still saving people money, because our Hydro rates are so much cheaper than fossil fuels. It’s also extremely prudent, given the federal government’s promise to introduce a carbon tax across the country.

Please let me know what you think of this idea by filling out a very short survey here: http://yourmanitoba.ca/caucus2010/electricvehicles.

You can also contact me at Rob.Altemeyer@YourManitoba.ca, on Twitter @RAltemeyer or call my office at (204) 775-8575.