OPINION: The future for EVs in Indiana is now

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Have you ever visited a community and instantly felt they were somehow ahead of the curve?

Maybe it was a matter of zoning that focused on green space, natural plantings, walkability or architectural elements like height restrictions for signage that helped define the sense of place. Whatever the case, you came away with a positive impression and a feeling they were on the right path for the future.

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Indiana is poised for that exact type of movement, to become leaders in the adoption of electric vehicles and the charging stations to support them. The Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee is preparing to release a request for proposals for $6.1 million in grant funding for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. The positive domino effect of this funding could have all of us feeling like our communities are moving forward in the right direction.

It’s already happening with the investment in electric vehicles locally. You’ll soon see the region’s first electric transit buses operating in Gary, Indiana thanks to federal funding through the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission as well as the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund. South Shore Clean Cities continues working with Gary Public Transportation Corporation on the successful implementation of this effort and is excited to see this project come to fruition.

The state’s first electric school bus will soon be unveiled by Carmel Clay Schools, just north of Indianapolis. We were proud to work on that successful Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund grant application with our members Blue Bird Corporation, Cummins and MacAllister Transportation.

We at South Shore Clean Cities have spent two decades working on increasing the adoption of sustainable transportation and understand well its many benefits. As is the case with all discussions surrounding sustainable transportation, regardless of the fuel source or technology, there are different reasons individuals, businesses, industries and governments choose to adopt them. For some, it’s rooted in environmentalism, a desire to reduce emissions, improve air quality and curb climate change. For others, it’s strictly a matter of savings on fuel and maintenance costs with an overall positive return on investment. Others still see it as a matter of investing in American jobs and products, forgoing the use of imported petroleum-based fuels in favor of domestic options.

The reality is, all of these benefits occur when you opt for sustainable transportation methods, including electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are built with American steel produced here in the region. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) electricians install the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicle charging stations. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) employees work to maintain the grid supplying energy to the stations. Sales representatives support their families selling electric vehicles. The charging stations located at tourism destinations, in retail areas and near restaurants all drive the economy as well, with drivers stopping to charge and spending money locally.

We know how the dots are connected. We’ve seen the transformational potential. South Shore Clean Cities is the only organization in Northern Indiana dedicated solely to sustainable transportation methodologies. We are committed to working with our partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to maximize the potential of the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund grant dollars to make it happen.

What the leaders need is to hear from you, to hear you support these efforts, to know you want these jobs to stay here in the region, that you want cleaner air, that you want these vehicles used in your communities and that you embrace positive change for a better tomorrow.

The reality is, tomorrow is already here. What will our reputation be? What will visitors take away from spending time in the state and region?

That’s up to all of us. Remember, it’s never too late to create your environmental legacy.

Carl Lisek is the executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are that of the writer.

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