Electric Vehicle Charging Station Program Begins in Northwest Indiana

In an effort to encourage more use of alternative fuels in Northwest Indiana, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) has partnered with South Shore Clean Cities to launch a pilot program making electric vehicle charging stations available to more public entities.

South Shore Clean Cities is a Crown Point-based public/private organization that promotes the use of alternative fuels and technology.

Through the end of January 2015, the IN-Charge Around Town Electric Vehicle Program offers financial incentives to help defray the costs of putting in charging stations on public buildings. NIPSCO is offering up to $1 million in incentives for the program, according to a press release.

This program is the second part of NIPSCO’s recent alternative fuel push; the IN-Charge at Home Program gave an instant credit for residents to install a charging station on their property. Additionally, NIPSCO will buy an equal amount of renewable energy certificates for every unit of electricity used through the program.

“Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to gasoline-powered cars,” explains Carl Lisek, executive director of South Shore Clean Cities, in a press release. “They offer fuel cost savings, produce no tailpipe emissions and help reduce reliance on imported oil.”

Charging station owners can choose to charge for using the station, but will operate free of charge for the owners.

Who’s Saving the Electric Car?

The United States government is working to make electric cars more mainstream. Much controversy has centered around this technology and why it has failed to thrive in the market (and that controversy culminated with the popular documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?"). Some blame flaws with the technology, some blame car manufacturers, some blame the government, and some blame oil companies. But an article in Government Technology reveals the electric car is far from dead:

President Barack Obama has called on the U.S. to put 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. But the country won’t get anywhere close to that number until drivers are confident they can find places to recharging stations.

How best to deploy a network of charging stations and jump-start the market for EVs are questions at the heart of the EV Project, a two-year study in five states that will put drivers in thousands of all-electric cars starting late this year. The U.S. Department of Energy announced a $99.8 million grant to the project in August 2009.

While an efficient gas-powered car can run 350 miles or more on a 12-gallon fill up, a battery charge will take an all-electric vehicle only 100 to 200 miles. Most electric car drivers will recharge them at home or at work, but if they want to use their vehicles for more than just local trips, they will need to plug them in while out and about.

Fear of getting stranded if they drive too far makes many people leery of electric cars. "People already have ‘range anxiety,’" said Colleen Crowninshield, manager of the Clean Cities Program at the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), in Tucson, Ariz., one of more than 40 partners in the EV Project.

Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. (eTec), a Phoenix-based developer of vehicle charging stations that heads the project consortium, will install 4,700 chargers in the homes and businesses of drivers who participate in the study, as well as 6,510 chargers in commercial and public locations. 

What do you think? Is this the right approach?

Electrifying Elkhart

Elkhart’s recent economic struggles have been well-documented, most notably last year when President Obama visited. But hopefully the page is turning in Northern Indiana as Gov. Daniels and others laud the fact that a Scandinavian electric car manufacturer plans to bring several hundred jobs to the area.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and local officials joined executives from electric car manufacturer, THINK today to announce the company’s decision to locate its North American production facility in Elkhart, creating more than 400 jobs by 2013.

A leading international manufacturer of pure electric vehicles (EV) based in Norway, THINK is scheduled to begin selling the THINK City, one of the world’s first highway-ready EVs, in the U.S. later this year. The company plans to invest more than $43 million in building improvements and equipment in Elkhart. The plant is slated to begin assembling vehicles in early 2011. THINK’s investments in Elkhart will support manufacturing capacity for more than 20,000 vehicles a year. The company recently started delivering the latest generation of its THINK City model to customers in Europe where it has more than 1,500 cars on the road.

"We’ve said we’re out to make Indiana the electric vehicle state. It’s beginning to look like the state capital will be Elkhart County," said Daniels.

The THINK City can travel at highway speed for more than 100 miles on a single battery charge with zero tailpipe emissions. The vehicle is currently in production in Finland at the site of THINK’s manufacturing partner, Valmet Automotive, which also houses assembly facilities for Porsche AG’s Boxster and Cayman models. European production of the THINK City will continue at Valmet to support European market demand.

Inside INdiana Business has the full presser here.