By Zia Zografos
Huntington Beach will plan to transition its entire 900 vehicle fleet to alternative fuel, the city council voted 5-1 at Tuesday night’s council meeting with Councilmember Erik Peterson voting no and councilmember Mike Posey being absent.
The city is following the lead set forth by General Motors, who announced that they plan on having all of their vehicles powered by renewable energy by 2035. The goal is to stop the mass production of diesel cars and trucks, and to stray away from the use of internal combustible engines. Instead, the vehicles will be pivoted to electric.
By 2025, General Motors plans to have 100 percent of their United States sites turned renewable, and 60 percent globally. Toyota also agreed to phase out their gas and diesel vehicles by 2040.
This will ultimately lead to a much more environmentally friendly and sustainable approach.
Councilmember Dan Kalmick stated at the meeting that in light of the oil spill over the weekend, now is the time to get ahead of the curve and move away from the city’s dependence on oil.
“We’re looking at alternative fuels, so that can be electric vehicles … to move us off our consumption of fossil fuels, which are pumped off the shore here and now into our beaches, unfortunately,” said Kalmick.
The vote will be effective immediately to have the city manager prepare a plan to kickstart this transition.
Councilmember Erik Peterson was skeptical of the item, and also mentioned the cost associated with the transition.
“I’m never getting rid of my truck… cause you know what? No CO2 in diesel. It’s not a combustion engine, it’s a compression engine … Before I’d like a policy like that, I’d really like to see the financial benefits of it,” said Peterson.
Councilmember Kalmick went on to state how the cost of ownership of an all-electric vehicle is much less, since there are no oil changes and the brakes usually need fewer replacements.
“The policy would be that the city would no longer be purchasing internal combustion engine vehicles,” said Kalmick. “If they’re no longer going to be selling them in California, the supply and demand curve is going to get whacky and they are going to get very expensive.”
The city currently only has 7.5 percent of its vehicles powered by alternative fuel. Those vehicles are powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), which is still a fossil fuel, although it is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Whether the city continues to use CNG or transitions entirely to electric is still up for discussion, according to city clerk Catherine Jun.
An 11-year resident of Huntington Beach, Lisa Swanson, wrote in her approval of the plan to move away from diesel and gas vehicles.
“This will eventually save the city money, lead to better air quality, and satisfy local, state, federal, and international goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” wrote Swanson in an email to the city.
The exact cost associated with this transition and the year it will be completed is not known yet, but will be discussed as the plan progresses.
Categories: Huntington Beach