The province is facing an oil price crunch and the need for fuel savings that could eventually be bigger than the $10.4-billion cost of the provincial road upgrade, said Manitoba Transport Minister Michael Coteau.
Coteau said the province is working on an energy efficiency initiative to save money.
“We’re going to be looking at ways to reduce our diesel costs,” he said.
“We’ve been talking to manufacturers about some of these options and how they can be integrated into the existing fleet,” he added.
The province is looking at the cost of a fuel cell, or a hybrid engine that runs on oil, Coteu said.
“There are some options, we’re not necessarily going to have a single option available in the province, but there are some things that we’ve looked at.”
He also said the Manitoba Transportation Infrastructure Corp. is exploring ways to use gas for its diesel fleet.
The province’s current fleet uses diesel oil and has been a focus of criticism for the cost overruns in the early days of the oil price slump.
In a report to the province last week, the provincial auditor said the provincial government has spent $4.5 billion on diesel upgrades and other projects over the last six years, and expects to spend $4 billion on those projects in the next five years.
The auditor also noted the province has been on the hook for a record $1.9 billion in insurance costs related to the oil spill and the resulting health crisis, and has committed to paying $1 billion in premiums in the coming year.