PQ pledges $516M to encourage electric transportation
MONTREAL - The PQ government is ready to spend a half a billion dollars over three years to encourage electric transportation.
According to the plan unveileved Friday, consumers will be eligible for grants of up to $8,000 to purchase electric or hybrid cars and $1,000 to install a charging station at home.
“When we offer the $8,000 rebate, people say, ‘It sounds good but if I don't have a charger.’ Then they lose interest,” said Premier Marois in a speech Friday.
She stressed that the program was not a trial or just targeted to a few initiatives. “It’s a comprehensive strategy, ranging from research and innovation through to marketing and to the consumer,” said Marois.
The government aims to add 12,500 electric vehicles to Quebec roads by 2017, compared to the previous program of the Charest government, whose encouragement only led to an additional 1,100 electric cars on the roads.
“Right now it’s a marginal phenomenon and we have to break that,” said Marois. “But to do this, we must go beyond the the scattered actions taken in the past.”
Quebec intends to deploy 5,000 public charging stations across the province on roads and near businesses and government buildings.
A pilot project will add a network of terminals along Highway 40 between Montreal and Quebec City.
Funding will also be made available to launch 525 electric taxis around the province.
Not included in the funding are three ambitious projects, the electrification of a section of St. Michel in Montreal with 25 trams rolling a distance of 10 kilometers by 2017, the extension of the blue metro line and the creation of light rail on a future Champlain Bridge.
Those three projects are slated to be paid for by infrastructure funds.
The government also announced the creation of an Institute of Electric Transport.
The program will also mandate the gradual replacement of all government vehicles with electric vehicles and will offer municipalities funding to make the effort.
The $516 million required for the project will come from the Green Fund and only includes only $30 million in new money, according to Marois.
Opposition critics were quick to make themselves heard.
“We are once again facing an electioneering ads, on transportation electrification this time,” said the Liberal critic for transport, Fatima Houda- Pepin. “She has no budget to finance the plan which was announced today and this is only smoke."
Houda-Pepin also accused the PQ of using Liberal party ideas.
“The difference between the Liberal plan and that of Ms. Marois is that the money we budgeted was real. Her measures are theoretical and her funding is Monopoly money."
CAQ economy critic Stéphane Le Bouyonnec welcomed the intentions but said that the plan could be “very expensive.”
"I think the government has to be very cautious because to try to accelerate the electrification of transportation could be very costly and we know our government is broke," he told CTV Montreal.
He also cited a failed Hydro Quebec electric car program which lost $340 million.
One environmentalist said that more of the cash should go to public transport.
"Right now most of the money goes for individual cars," said Steve Guilbeault of Equiterre.
-With a file from The Canadian Press