The Government of Ontario is getting serious about climate change and they have introduced a David Suzuki-endorsed plan in an effort to make some serious changes to limit carbon emissions. Some of those are big changes designed to make it easier to own an electric car, and to overcome some of the obstacles that are holding people back from buying them. An expansion of EV sales to 5% of new cars sold in Ontario is an ambitious goal, and they are doing a great deal to make it achievable.

What could be the biggest part of that is a change to the building codes requiring 50-amp 240-volt plugs to be installed in all new garages, and to require all new commercial office buildings to have chargers installed. That means that your new home will already be ready for the EV charger for whatever car you choose (and as a side bonus, that plug will work for your welder too), and that your new office will have chargers. This is a big deal, not only because of the reduced cost to a homeowner who later decides they want an EV, but because anything that leads to more chargers around shrinks what is probably the largest obstacle to EV ownership. The Province is also planning to enter into negotiations with Ottawa to waive the HST on any EV purchases, and in order to ease the first few years of ownership further there is a plan for a four-year free overnight charging program to start next year.

On top of this, Premier Kathleen Wynn announced that there would be a cash-for-clunkers style rebate to encourage trading older, higher polluting vehicles for new, more efficient EVs. Wynn stated that it would even contribute to the purchase of used EVs, further lowering the cost to get into an EV.

Combined with expansions to the current EV tax credits of up to $14,000, owning an EV in Ontario just got very appealing. But even so, the target of selling 14,000 EVs per year seems ambitious. It’s certainly a big leap from the 6,000 or so EVs that have been sold to date in the province. It’s also a very different plan than states like California have implemented where automakers are penalized for not selling enough EVs, leaving the automaker to provide much of the incentive to purchase.

It’s not just cars that will be affected by the changes. There are also plans to help convince truckers to move away from diesel and into lower carbon fuels like natural gas, E85, propane, and biodiesel. Cyclists benefit too, with plans for up to $225 million in spending on bike paths and trails and towns forced to expand bike infrastructure.

All of the changes are expected to be paid for with carbon taxes that will raise the price of gasoline by 4.3 cents a litre in January, increase the cost of natural gas slightly, and carbon pricing that the Government expects to raise $1.9 billion per year. That sum will also be split with incentives to help farms and industry to reduce their own emissions. The full 85-page "Ontario’s Five Year Climate Action Plan 2016-2020" is to be released Wednesday.