Shocking Lack of Details on Cost of Electric Car Push

REGINA, SK: New research from think tank shows that no level of government has properly researched what Canadians will have to pay — through their power bills — as a result of Ottawa’s push for widespread electric vehicle (EV) usage. The push for EVs is part of the federal government’s plan to ban new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035.

Not only do electric cars require large amounts of power, many jurisdictions will have to upgrade parts of their electricity distribution systems (the power lines in neighbourhoods) and may need to build new transmission lines as new power plants and power sources are built.

“It’s good that there are companies producing electric cars as more competition in the auto sector is good for consumers,” said study co-author Colin Craig. “However, the federal government’s decision to push for everyone to drive electric vehicles means significant upgrades are required to our electricity grids. What will that cost households through their power bills? No one knows.” filed Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with provincial governments, asking for any analysis on the impact to the electrical system and the cost to ratepayers due to the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. While the provinces are not responsible for Ottawa’s push for electric vehicles, they are in charge of electric grids within their borders.

Findings from’s research include:

  • Not one province had estimates on how much the mandate will cost ratepayers through their power bills, though there was general agreement that the ban on gas-powered vehicles would cause a strain to the electric grid.
  • Lower income households will be hit hardest as electricity grids are upgraded. This is because utility charges make up a greater percentage of their household spending. 
  • Households that do not own electric vehicles may need to subsidize electric grid upgrades, for households that do own electric cars.
  • A University of Regina report, commissioned by SaskPower, examined the impact of EVs on local distribution systems. It found that, in the prairie province, a 22-house distribution system could handle charging 11 EVs. Given that many homes have two vehicles, it’s easy to see how significant upgrades would be needed.
  • NL (Newfoundland and Labrador) Hydro doesn’t believe that the province will be able to reach the federal government’s target of 100% new ZEV sales by 2035.

“These are just a few of the challenges we uncovered in this study,” said co-author Dom Lucyk. “An influx of EVs will also mean significant investments are needed to build charging infrastructure, to generate more power, to handle the extra weight of heavier EVs on roads, and so on. Overall, it’s clear that the country isn’t ready for this massive mandate.”

Ultimately, Ottawa implemented a policy without calculating the cost to Canadian households. With that in mind,  it would be prudent to pause the ZEV mandate, go back and do the homework first. After seeing how it affects their wallets, many Canadians might not support the government’s policy.

To see Policy Brief: Shocking Lack of Details on Cost of Electric Car Mandate – click here.

See each province’s FOI response below:

B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation — FOI 1, FOI 2
B.C. Hydro — FOI 1, FOI 2
Alberta Electric System Operator — FOI 1, FOI 2
Alberta Ministry of Energy — FOI 
SaskPower — FOI 1, FOI 2
Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy — FOI
Manitoba Hydro — FOI 1, FOI 2
Manitoba Department of Environment and Climate — FOI
Ontario Ministry of Transportation — FOI
Ontario Energy Board — FOI 1, FOI 2
Hydro Quebec — FOI 1, FOI 2
Quebec Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks — FOI
Nova Scotia Natural Resources and Renewables — FOI
New Brunswick Natural Resources and Energy Development — FOI 1, FOI 2
Newfoundland Department of Industry, Energy and Technology — FOI 1, FOI 2
PEI Ministry of Energy — FOI 1, FOI 2

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

You can help us continue to research and tell stories about this issue by making a donation or sharing this content with your friends. Be sure to sign up for our updates too!