July 17th, 2024

Viable alternative needed to electric powered vehicles

By Lethbridge Herald on January 19, 2024.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Even for those of us who remember the 1960s and ‘70s, the cold snap that descended upon us late last week seems a little much.

Maybe folks who were around in the 1950s endured temperatures that dropped so low for so long but I think the rest of us would be hard-pressed to come up with similar memories.

Plugging in vehicles and bundling up in the cold is old hat for us Canadians but the severity of the polar vortex that hit just seems absolutely extraordinary.

I’m accustomed – being a person who doesn’t own newer vehicles – to keeping booster cables and a battery charger on hand. But the severity of the cold last weekend was such it sucked the life right out of one battery, which is only two years old and prompted a 24-hour slow charge. But I then had to hook up an oil pan heater afterwards because that charge wasn’t enough to get the truck running.

I know I’m not alone in this and I’m thankful I have another vehicle, albeit one which lost its heater on Saturday morning prompting a cold drive to the repair shop.

And this weather impacted not only vehicles, but furnaces as well. And while having no vehicle is an inconvenience, having a house with no heat is life-threatening. One of my reporters with children had to endure that situation last week for the better part of a day, which had to be a frightening experience. A neighbour is having furnace issues and heating companies have told me they’ve got every available person working to keep residents warm and safe.

The weather has impacted schools with two at least being closed due to unexpected issues. City Hall closed Monday after a sanitary line broke, requiring that the water be turned off.

And anyone with dogs knows how stir-crazy they’ve become in this cold, with the weather making it impossible for them to stay outdoors longer than to relieve themselves.

 Izzy went full-blown manic on the weekend, shredding socks and a baseball cap so I did out of necessity get her out a few times just to run up the block and back. Ben scampered along beside us, when he wasn’t stopping to roll in the snow on yards or the street.

Izzy, who doesn’t have a lot of fur protecting her and I just ran, however. Which was pretty invigorating and tough with all the layers I was wearing and the winter boots.

 I managed to get in my 10,000 steps on both Saturday and Sunday which I didn’t see coming. 

And I’ve kept up the pace all week somehow, including a few extremely cold walks around downtown to take weather photos.

None of us, I would think, predicted we’d have to concern ourselves with intermittent blackouts because of the stress on the electrical system on the weekend.

This is hugely problematic lest somebody dies because the grid can’t handle the strain of cold weather. 

But as MLA for Lethbridge East Nathan Neudorf pointed out to me this week, Albertans stepped up and reacted quickly to the emergency situation, cutting down their power usage immensely in just minutes. That’s a credit to Albertans who showed we can come together for a common cause when needed.

Hopefully we won’t have to endure  this situation again. Being warned about the loss of power in January is a first in my memory. And the fact it happened with the temperature plummeting to the low -30s is hugely troubling.

At one point, the Alberta energy grid had only 10 mega watts of reserve power Saturday.

The first warning from AESO came the day we published a story I wrote about provincial concerns about the federal government’s mandate to have only zero-emissions vehicles being sold by 2035.

AESO’s alert on Saturday night called on Albertans to take measures which included not using major appliances and not plugging in block heaters and electric vehicles.

And latter request rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Why? Because on one hand, we’re being told that we need to reduce emissions and go electric but there isn’t – as I’ve written about – enough infrastructure yet in Alberta to accommodate all the electric vehicles that will obviously be relied upon to replace the venerable internal combustion engine.

The province, if you read my story, has its sights set on hydrogen, which is a clean energy and one that has so far its own drawbacks, the biggest being a lack of fuelling station infrastructure. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being sold in a small number markets – B.C. and Quebec in Canada – as well as some U.S. states and the province feels hydrogen could be an alternative to EVs, one which wouldn’t put pressure on the electricity grid.

And don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-EV. If I ever won the lottery, I’d buy one for hauling the dogs around because it would save me fuel and reduce my environmental footprint. And with the amount I travel when I’m off work I could go a considerable time without having to charge. 

Years ago, I drove a Chevrolet Volt for a few days on a test and I could easily do my neeced driving entirely on electric range, especially with the capacity of new batteries.

And as a car guy, if you’re wondering what EV I’d buy right now it would be the Subaru Solterra from our friends at Lethbridge Subaru or a Nissan Ariya from our friends at McDonald Nissan. 

Regardless of what people think of UCP politics, hydrogen does look like a potential alternative to EVs and one that perhaps needs to be investigated further by Ottawa given what happened last weekend.

With climate change and the worsening extremes of climate, emergencies are only going to worsen including winter and if a viable clean-burning alternative can be pursued, I say put the pedal to the metal. 

The sooner the better.

CONDOLENCES: I hate writing these things because it means another good soul has passed too soon.

But I need to extend my sympathy to the family and friends of Chet Mook who recently died. Chet was a huge supporter of the Lethbridge arts community, a person I got to know well when I was running our entertainment section, which I guess I still am, come to think of it.

Chet was a good man and a good friend who gave me a lot of support during the years and I will always treasure the talks we had and the kindness he showed to me. He was a city treasure. 

And on another note, I also want to let my childhood pal Bruce Nilsson know how sorry I am to hear he had to say goodbye to his golden retriever Dexter.

My Ben dog loved Dexter, maybe a little too much at times, when they had a chance to romp together at Peenaquim Park and he was the absolute sweetest dog. Which explains why Ben would spend their walks licking Dexter’s ears and nuzzling him. Sorry, Bruce. 

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Southern Albertan

Read on how this fellow in Yellowknife dealt with charging up his Ford F150 Lightning electric truck:
“He drives an electric truck in Yellowknife, but his home cannot handle the charger it came with. Ben Baird bought a slower Level 2 charger for his Ford F150 Lightning instead.”

pursuit diver

I do agree, there should be alternatives to EV’s. Hydrogen has issues, but even gasoline vehicles have issues after being conceived over 100 years ago. There has to be more than one choice!
EV’s in Calgary in the cold snap had to be charged when the person was at work, so they had the power to get home. They were used 2-3 times the energy and if you use slow chargers, that is almost constant charging.
Society has to adapt as well. As we turned off all non-essential lights and unplugged the vehicles I noticed the city had the Christmas tree and all the lights in Galt gardens lit up. The city has to come up with a plan to cut non-essential lighting as well, adding timers perhaps during those peak hours of 4pm – 7pm. We have to adapt as we make the move!
I do agree that the 2035 set date to end the sales of all petroleum powered vehicles is pushing the limits to having the replacements on the roads and that both electric and hydrogen are very expensive. EV batteries only last 5 years and costs range from $5,000 (this seems very low) up to $50,000.
“…Ford’s official parts catalog for the F-150 Lightning shows that the standard range battery costs $28,556 while the extended pack will set you back $35,960. This excludes any labor costs. (Nov 11, 2023)…”
“…Tesla battery replacement costs fall within a range of $5,000 to $20,000 or more. (Dec 5, 2023)
At this time we hear stories of batteries lasting 5-20 years and costs in one article of $60,000 to replace on a 2022 Hyundai.
That is just the battery! Now maintenance costs for the motors that power the wheels are also very high and at this time, hydrogen vehicles use similar motors.
I think we are going to find that one or both of the alternatives will fail in the end and need to continue to focus on alternatives.
Many of us will no longer be able to afford a vehicle and will need transportation for appointments and shopping.
One point, and I state this knowing we all need to help look after the planet better is: Canada only emits 1.6 % of the world’s green house gases and even if we took every vehicle off the road, we would still emit over 1% of the world’s GHG’s! China emits over 30%! Why is Canada the one that is picked on to reduce its emissions and China left alone?
China, the US and the EU emit almost 60% of the world GHG’s! The war machine contributes a great deal of GHG’s whether manufacturer or the use of the weapons/equipment, and the UN, who is pushing this UN Agenda 2030, is supposed to prevent major wars and world wars!
Yet here we are, watching WW III evolve. What type of world will left once the nuclear missiles fly?


Whoa! Lots of EV disinformation there to unpack. No, I don’t have to charge my EV to return from work, one charge will typically last a week in very cold winter weather, longer when it warms up a bit. Batteries will last the life of the car in most cases. Maintenance is much less when you have an engine with one moving part.
The technology is fully developed and ready for prime time at this point, which I can say after driving electric vehicles for the last 13 years.


Yeh wait till your batteries what are you going to do with the waste


Nice sentence.

Last edited 5 months ago by lumpy
pursuit diver

Negative on the disinformation!!!! I guess you missed the people on the news that were interviewed in Calgary and complaining how they had to not just charge their EV at home, but at work during the coldest part of the coldsnap. Normally they had more than enough power to go to work, then on the way do some other errands and then go home. Not during the cold spell.
The tech in NOT fully developed!
Here is some more true information!
“… All lithium-ion batteries have trouble in extreme cold…”
“…As temperatures plunged as low as minus 17 degrees Celsius in parts of America this week, it’s been no joke for residents.
Tesla owners have faced particular trouble, after the extreme cold made it impossible to charge their vehicles, leaving some stranded out in the freezing conditions….”
“…”It’s too cold, it uses too much of the energy…”
Also you may want to read:
It states:
“…Recent headlines highlighted a Stoney Creek, Ontario man dismayed to discover the cost of a new battery for his 2017 Hyundai Ioniq would be about $50,000….”
“…today’s batteries may last 12 to 15 years in moderate climates (8 to 12 years in extreme climates)
I don’t know where you got the idea that the battery will last the life of the vehicle, unless you are an EV salesperson, but multiple articles, including Ford, state anywhere from 8 to 20 years and being a battery they degrade and do not hold their charge as well over time, just like your cell phone!
EV’s still need to be developed better and are out there because of the pressure to replace gas/diesel engines. They are far from being fully developed!


Maybe a fix before WWIII? When is that again?


please tell us.

Last edited 5 months ago by lumpy

Alberta can, of course, continue to grow its electric infrastructure, just as it has over the past 118 years. Your call to give up on modern technology is perhaps just fear of change. I must point out your assertion Alberta is looking to hydrogen as a clean fuel alternative is a false one. The province hopes to produce hydrogen by burning fossil fuels, which does little to reduce emissions.

pursuit diver

“…. I must point out your assertion Alberta is looking to hydrogen as a clean fuel alternative is a false one….”
Okay who is the one spreading ‘disinformation’?
Perhaps you should read the Government of Alberta website information!
Also did you read the article in the Lethbridge Herald January 12, 2024:
“…Dave Nally, Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, said in an interview recently that electric vehicles are not a realistic alternative to gasoline and diesel-powered cars and trucks in Alberta.
But hydrogen power is….”
I would also point out that EV’s require energy from fossil fuels and as in every vehicle have a carbon footprint. Natural gas can be used in the production of hydrogen, with carbon capture and would not have any more of a carbon footprint than EV’s. Let me remind you that battery minerals for EV’s have to be mined.
“…Lithium-ion batteries, the kind that power almost all EVs, use five “critical minerals”: lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite….”
“…Because of the energy required to extract and refine these battery minerals, EV production generally emits more greenhouse gases per car than cars powered by fossil fuels…”
Have you ever seen a mining operation and the number of vehicles just to prepare the land, extract the ore and then the high heat needed to melt the minerals from the other impurities, not to mention all the transportation methods needed in the process before the battery is made?
Read this:
Lithium Mining Projects May Not Be Green Friendly – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
And that is just for the Lithium, not all the other metals for the batteries.
There are more than one processes for producing hydrogen:
“…Today, hydrogen fuel can be produced through several methods. The most common methods today are natural gas reforming (a thermal process), and electrolysis. Other methods include solar-driven and biological processes….”
As earlier stated, I am not sure if either will be a viable alternative! That is why I state that we must not just think or believe the EV or hydrogen vehicle will be the answer.
I am concerned that we are pushing to hard just for EV’s, which have a large carbon footprint to make and as we have found, just like your cellphone, losing power faster in cold weather, requiring 2-3 times the charging!
As we have found, we cannot just rely on wind and solar power in the winter months!

Last edited 5 months ago by pursuit diver
Last edited 5 months ago by lumpy

Oh, the whiners about EVs and how much of a fail they are…It’s like they think technology just stops here. It’s only going to improve. You dummies will be embarrassed in a few years.