EDITORIAL: How green are electric cars?

Power is also a precious commodity we’re urged to conserve.

Electric vehicles are not new. They have existed since the early 1900s, but were soon deposed by gasoline-powered vehicles that could travel further and faster for the same or less cost.

Until a few short years ago, fossil fuel-burning cars were still the cheapest form of transportation for the average Canadian family. But with gas prices quickly rising and unacceptable amounts of pollution flowing from millions of tailpipes, electric cars have reappeared as the next best form of passenger vehicle.

But are they truly green?

Greener, maybe. But not green.

Electric cars are moving to the forefront simply because they are becoming more cost-effective than traditional cars, not because they are the saviour of the environment.

Factor in production, use of vulcanized rubber, toxic batteries and other materials and an electric car is just a shade better than a fossil fuel-burning vehicle.

But it’s the energy source that is most questionable.

Greenhouse gases don’t spew from the tailpipes, but that electricity has to come from somewhere. Whether it’s coal-fired plants or controversial run-of-river power generators, plugging in isn’t great for the environment.

For decades, B.C. Hydro has implored residents to power down and conserve to ease the burden on its grid.

Yet peak power times could take on a whole new meaning when more and more drivers arrive home from work and recharge their energy-thirsty vehicles.

With demand like that, electricity prices will likely soar, making fossil fuel-burning vehicles once again more attractive.

Electric vehicles could serve as a temporary solution on pollution, but in time, history is bound to repeat itself.