It’s always encouraging when a political leader mentions the right technology during a major speech. Four months ago George Bush, the mainstream environment movement’s arch-nemesis, touted plug-in hybrids during his state of the union speech. A few days ago, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, in announcing a $650 million green fund, said “GM is making their hydrogen fuel-cell cars here, but let’s make plug-in electrics here, let’s make the new [electric Chevrolet] Volt here.”
I hope the premier means what he says, and that the auto industry portion of that $650 million is enough to influence at least one major automaker to seriously pursue plug-ins. Plug-in hybrids, as I and others have said (see article), are by far the most viable way to dramatically cut auto emissions.
Will it have any influence? Automakers are more likely to respond to the tough new auto efficiency rules racing through the U.S. congress than to Ontario’s fund. But the end result is what counts. Right now it looks a bit iffy: Ford Canada sounds like it hasn’t decided whether to build hybrids in Ontario, GM is still wasting valuable time and money on the hydrogen red herring (see article). But that’s precisely why politicians like McGuinty and Bush talk about these things—give the automakers a public nudge in the right direction.
Notice McGuinty didn’t say anything about the grid electricity that will recharge his plug-ins. He’s still too intimidated by the loudmouth green lobby to say that it will be nuclear fission that generates most of this clean power. But that’s another story.
How can all the bright people at GM still think that a hydrogen fuel cell is viable? How long can McGuinty carry on with his dream that wind mills will power Ontario? It has been obvious for years now that the way forward begins with plugin hybrid cars and CANDU reactors, then advances to electric powered transport on rails and fast reactors. Ontario has all the resources and skills to lead this parade into paradise. But we won’t.
Two words, Randal: political correctness. That’s what is driving all the talk about electricity policy in this province. Sad but true. The good news is, the next government, even if it’s the Dippers, will realize it’s time to bite the bullet and add some oomph to our generation capacity. Arithmetic is arithmetic.