A Manitoban who has made the switch to green energy is now encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, but one climate expert believes it shouldn’t be left up to individual efforts.

Larry Hochman has about a 40-minute commute to work every day. Lucky for him, he gets to skip the gas pump — instead, he powers his car and home using the sun.

He and his wife installed a 42-panel solar array back in 2014, recently adding another eight panels to heat all of their hot water.

“It’s nice in the summer not having a hydro bill even with my air conditioning running. I create so much solar and sell it back to Manitoba Hydro that I wind up with a credit to small credit by the end of the summer,” said Hochman .

Hochman said the system cost about $65,000 to install but noted there are now cheaper and more powerful panels.

According to Hochman, the system will pay for itself in a few more years. Logic, he also justifies his Tesla with.

“Saving, you know, $7,000 to $8,000 a year on gas. Okay, well, how long does it take before that car’s been paid for?” said Hochman.

Electric vehicles like Hochman’s will soon be cheaper for Canadians. The federal government announced it’s expanding its electric vehicle rebate program to include vans, SUVs, and trucks that had not previously qualified.

Consumers will now get a $5,000 rebate for fully electric vehicles that cost less than $70,000.

It’s a move James Meadowcroft, a professor at Carleton University who works with the green charity Transition Accelerator, says is needed.

“We need incentives for consumers, as of the ones that have been announced,” said Meadowcroft. “Of course, to build a lot of charging infrastructure, but we also need some measures that oblige companies to sell a certain portion of electric vehicles.”

For Manitoba to totally eliminate fossil fuels, it needs more than just electric vehicles.

According to Climate Change Connection’s recent paper outlining how the province can switch to renewable energy, almost every building needs better insulation and to be converted to geothermal energy.

“In order to supply all the electricity we need, we need to make all of our buildings more efficient,” said the paper’s author Curt Hull.

“We also need to connect our buildings to geothermal, and I’m not talking about geothermal wells in everybody’s front yard. Instead, we are talking about district geothermal where we are talking about horizontal wells underneath roadways, back lanes and boulevards and deep wells potentially at street corners.”

Hull says the switch to green energy shouldn’t be left up to individual people.

“This is a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution, a solution that’s managed by the government and crown corporations all working together with us.”

As for Hochman and his solar panels, he’s encouraging people to make the extra effort.

“I would definitely tell people to go for it, and the same with buying an electric car, go for it,” he said.


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