Saskatchewan. lawyer says province needs to do more to promote electric vehicles

“There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about electric vehicles here in the province and we think the government could do a better job of demonstrating the benefits of electrification.”

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Nearly a year after the provincial government announced a $150 annual fee on electric passenger vehicles, electric vehicle owners continue to call for the tax to be removed.

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“It would be great to see the Saskatchewan provincial government supporting more alternative modes of transportation,” said Matthew Pointer, founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association, on Friday. “A big one would be to eliminate PST on used electric vehicles.”

When the tax was announced last spring, there were 403 electric vehicles in Saskatchewan, which translated to just over $60,000 in annual revenue for the province.

Now Pointer says there are about 1,200 electric vehicles in Saskatchewan. That number is growing every day, but he said the EV adoption curve is still much slower than the association would like to see and that eliminating the tax is just one of many things the province could do to speed things up.

“There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about electric vehicles here in the province, and we think the government could do a better job of demonstrating the benefits of electrification,” Pointer said.

Pointer has driven an electric vehicle for four years and said he’s never had a problem, even in Saskatchewan’s harshest weather conditions. In a presentation to Regina City Council last month, he even went so far as to say it works better in the winter because it doesn’t need to warm up like a gas-powered car does. (Council recently approved an energy and sustainability framework, part of which aims to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Regina and help educate residents about the feasibility of electric vehicles.)

He travels between Saskatoon and Regina at least twice a month. Although Tesla superchargers seem to be the most consistent, he said charging stations operate at temperatures as low as minus 40 or 50. And despite Saskatchewan’s heavy use of fossil fuels, an electric vehicle in Saskatchewan still produces 30 % less emissions than a traditional gasoline vehicle. vehicle, according to SaskPower.

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He said there had been no such messages from the Saskatchewan Party.

“So far that flag is only 100% being waved by SaskPower,” Pointer said.

Matthew Pointer, founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association, poses for a portrait next to a Tesla charging station Monday, April 4, 2022 in Regina.
Matthew Pointer, founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association, poses for a portrait next to a Tesla charging station Monday, April 4, 2022 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Chief’s Post

When asked to comment on the criticism, an Environment Department media relations officer referred the matter to SaskPower, which they say is “the government lead on electric vehicles, including communications around of their promotion”.

“We take an informational approach rather than a promotional approach because at the end of the day, we are the power company. We’re not an auto company,” Scott McGregor, a SaskPower spokesman, said in an interview Monday. “I can’t really speak for the government in this regard.”

He said SaskPower’s role is more about meeting the expectations and needs of its customers as electric vehicles become more mainstream than promoting the transition to electric vehicles. He said that role is more for the community and advocacy groups.

But SaskPower is working to make it easier to drive electric vehicles in Saskatchewan. In February, he launched the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which aims to fill the gaps in electric vehicle infrastructure in the province.

“We did a lot of studies to understand what driving behaviors are, charging behaviors and in that sense we found that there was a discrepancy if you weren’t basically along the Trans-Canada or in a big center,” McGregor said.

Currently in its pre-application phase, where businesses, First Nations and municipalities were invited to contact if they were interested in installing a fast charging station to see if they meet the prerequisites and qualify program, SaskPower will begin accepting applications between April 6 and April 19.

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The objective is to build 20 charging stations in areas that need them, with a minimum of two chargers at each station.

“The biggest problem is that we don’t have enough redundancy at the charging points in the province,” Pointer noted. “It would be a bit like having a pump at a gas station. If this pump fails for any reason, there will be issues with that.

He’s optimistic that SaskPower’s new program, along with help from the federal government’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure program, will help close the gap. Pointer said the province would also benefit from a zero-emission vehicle mandate, which would require dealerships to sell a certain percentage of electric vehicles.

“I know change is very slow and difficult in this province,” he said. “We’re just banging our heads against the wall, trying to get the word out.”

jackerman@postmedia.com

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