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Evan Saugstad: Electric dinosaurs

When EVs don’t fit the intended use and their use makes no economic sense, why should everyone be forced to change?
Electric Vehicle Battery charger - Getty Images
Evan Saugstad: "Personally, I have nothing against electric vehicles, I just don’t see one in my life. For some, they work great; for others, not so much, and in the future, who knows if they will become the car equivalent to the 8-track tape when better systems to deliver music came along."

A couple weeks ago, I wrote on the high cost of living and inflation, and how much is driven by the high price of fossil fuels. Was interesting reading the online comments posted on the Alaska Highway News Facebook page.

Much of the common thread of those posts was the utility, or lack of, for electric vehicles (EVs). Comments ranged from EVs being the best things since the invention of a crescent wrench (now more commonly known as an adjustable wrench), to being on par with the electric version of the same wrench when pitched as a mechanic’s dream.

Personally, I have nothing against electric vehicles, I just don’t see one in my life, unless my brain begins thinking otherwise. For some, they work great; for others, not so much, and in the future, who knows if they will become the car equivalent to the 8-track tape that was assigned to the dustbin of life when better systems to deliver music came along.

EVs make sense and work just fine where their predominant use is within the design range, the vehicle fits the purpose, and where electricity is plentiful and comes from non-fossil fuel generation sources. I agree with the emphasis on increasing their use but don’t agree with our precious tax dollars being used to subsidize their purchase and use, or how our political leaders keep avoiding talking about taxing them as is done for vehicles with internal combustion engines.

When B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell announced and implemented Canada’s first carbon tax in 2008, I opposed its unilateral application. The tax was applied equally on everyone, no exceptions, and as a Mayor, spoke out publicly at that time, and still do. Yes, he and successive BC Liberal governments gave rebates back to try and level the field (something that Premier John Horgan quickly cancelled in favour of only giving rebates to those he supports and/or chooses). But it was wrong to tax individuals, business, and industry that have little to no alternatives in replacing their use, no matter how high we inflate the price of energy.

I still say the same today about those forced to pay with no real alternatives or solutions, and limited ability to recoup those increased costs. Electric combines are not in the future for farmers, neither for logging trucks, heavy construction equipment, most boats, back country recreational vehicles, and general vehicle use in northern or remote communities, where charging infrastructure doesn’t exist, and installation makes little economic or practical sense. Same for those buildings designed to be heated with natural gas or oil.

As an example, if I wish to own an electric vehicle and desire anything more than a 110 trickle charger, I must first replace my electric panel, which then voids my grandfather clause for the mast, which must be relocated outside of the wall and my meter placed in an unobscured position. This can also trigger further changes to other wiring that does not meet current code, then add costs of new wires and the plug-in itself, and I am looking at somewhere north of $10,000, just to be ready. Same if we were to convert our house from natural gas heating to electric.

Like many, we use our vehicles for travel where recharging is either minimal or non-existent, in cold winter conditions where extensive delays can be the norm, where fossil fuelled vehicles are our best insurance for safe trips. And then there is ICBC, which dictates each vehicle carry its own insurance.

When EVs don’t fit the intended use and their use makes no economic sense, why should everyone be forced to change?

As I throw a bit more gasoline on the fire (will this saying be irrelevant in a couple more generations?), and before you call me a Neanderthal and tell me it is because Abbotsford flooded, and Lytton burned, consider this.

There are alternate theories as to what effect fossil fuels have on our climate, and yes, theories that many wish we not be able to discuss, believe, or even be allowed to see in print.

One is that our sun’s intensity and activity has a dominant effect on our earth and weather, and, as the sun cycles, its changes dictate much of our planet’s warming and cooling trends. I don’t claim to be any expert, don’t make claims as these being correct or absurd, but I do find them interesting and well thought out, which then gets me thinking.

What if our claims that fossil fuel use is solely responsible for all our weather woes is incorrect? Should we turn our world upside down when we do not know for certain, or should we plod along, change the things that make sense, at least until we know and understand what turning our civilization upside down truly means?

If you are interested in the complete story, go to and make your own conclusions.

And if you don’t think I know what I am doing or saying, I do consider myself a scientist, along with 38 million other Canadians. I understand science and do understand how to get to my answer. For a few thousand mornings, I have watched Karen as she gets up, and every day she starts out grumpy. Rather than accept her standard answer that she is not a morning person, and that this causes her grumpiness, I thought otherwise, began taking notes, and soon concluded that if she never went to bed, never went to sleep, she would never wake up grumpy in the morning.

“Preposterous” was her response when I told her of my conclusions, but since she has never let me keep her up all night to prove me wrong, I must be correct. No further discussion warranted or allowed.

Process sound familiar? Just remember, you have your convictions, I have mine, and our politicians just switch in-between, favouring one or another, depending upon what yesterday’s poll told them to say.

And just in case you are wondering what you say to your long lost cousin who shows up on your doorstep in their shiny new electric vehicle, asking if they can plug in for a recharge while they visit, there is a very polite answer.

“Great, no problem, just bring me a five-gallon jug of gas for my truck and we can call it even."

Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.

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