VICTORIA — Energy Minister Bill Bennett says the government is considering a second expansion of British Columbia’s incentive programs for electric car buyers.
The $10.6 million Clean Energy Vehicle Program, which includes $5,000 rebates to buy or lease electric vehicles, is due to run out of money in March but efforts are underway to keep it going, Bennett said in an interview on Thursday.
An original program was launched in 2011 but quickly consumed its $4.7-million incentive budget. The $10.6-million program was introduced last April as an extension of the original vehicle program and was forecast to run for three years.
About 2,200 electric vehicles have been purchased through the programs. British Columbia now has more than 3,100 battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles registered in the province, the second highest in Canada.
“I have certainly reported to government the Clean Energy Vehicle Program has been incredibly successful,” said Bennett. ”A three-year funding amount has been used up in less than a year. It shows to me the public is really keen on doing this.”
The incentives in last year’s program included $7.5 million in rebates for electric vehicle purchases, with the remaining money to be spent on infrastructure to charge vehicles and research.
Bennett said a third phase would mirror the first two.
“The largest amount would go to incentives and the smaller amounts would go to charging infrastructure,” he added.
The government announced Thursday that it will spend $50,000 to help train certified electricians to install and maintain vehicle charging stations.
The money will subsidize course fees with a Port Coquitlam-based training company. The fees apply to the training program operated by E2Inc at locations throughout B.C.
Bennett said B.C. already has the largest public-charging network in Canada for electric vehicles at more than 1,000 outlets, but more can be done.
Last month, B.C. joined a global alliance pledging to ensure all new vehicles in their jurisdictions are zero-emissions models by 2050.
The Pembina Institute in B.C. said joining Germany, the Netherlands and California in cutting vehicle emissions is a positive step, but introducing zero-emission standards and increasing the carbon tax would speed up the transition to electric vehicles.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
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