Huntington Beach to develop plan to transition city vehicles to alternative fuels

Huntington Beach City Council voted to develop a plan to switch its city fleet to alternative energy vehicles in the future.
The Huntington Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to develop a plan to switch its whole city fleet to alternative energy vehicles in the future.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The city of Huntington Beach’s vehicle fleet could soon be going green.

The Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-1-1 on Tuesday night to develop a plan to transition the city’s vehicles to using alternative fuels. The item was brought forward by Council members Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser.

Councilman Erik Peterson voted against the item, the last one discussed at a meeting that was abbreviated due to the oil spill. Councilman Mike Posey was absent.

The item was on the agenda prior to the oil spill, but several Huntington Beach residents referenced the spill in emails supporting the move away from traditional gas-powered vehicles.

“We’re looking at alternative fuels, so that could be electric vehicles or something else that makes sense in the portfolio,” Kalmick said. “We want to move off of fossil fuels, which are pumped off the shore here and now onto our beaches, unfortunately ... It’s a small step, but as they say, every large journey begins with a small step.”

Kalmick and Moser noted in their item that only about 7.5% of the city’s 900-vehicle fleet is currently powered by alternative fuels. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order banning sales of new combustion-engine vehicles starting in 2035.

“If they’re no longer going to be selling them in California, that means the supply and demand curve is going to get wacky,” Kalmick said. “They’re going to get very expensive, and we don’t want to get caught behind the curve. This is planning ahead.”

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to develop a plan to switch its whole city fleet.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Additionally, General Motors announced this year that it plans to eliminate its gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. Honda chief executive Toshihiro Mibe said in April that he wants 40% of the company’s vehicles to be fully electric by 2030, with all vehicles fully electric by 2040.

Moser said she thinks it’s important that the city leads the transition from fossil fuels.

“I think it’s important that we do start planning for these things,” she said. “I really hope that the staff will find some ways to move forward that are both good for the environment and also good financially. If we do that ahead of the game, I think that we’re going to be in a better position.”

Peterson questioned the financial benefit of planning the transition, adding that he’s never getting rid of his diesel truck.

“No [carbon dioxide] in diesel,” he said. “It’s not a combustion engine, it’s a compression engine. I only have ash, and I love that ash.”

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