OPINION: 2022 poised to be a transformative year for EVs in Indiana

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We all could use a little something to look forward to in 2022.

When it comes to electric vehicle adoption and advancement, there is much to come this year that stands to benefit the nation and the state in many ways.  The administrations at the state and federal levels laid much of the groundwork in 2021 for the work to be done in this capacity in 2022 and beyond.

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In May 2021, the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee awarded a $5.5 million grant to the Indiana Utility Group to install at least 61 DC Fast electric vehicle charging stations across Indiana. Then, on Sept. 14, the VW Committee awarded South Shore Clean Cities a five-year, $800,000 grant for outreach, education and marketing for the statewide electric vehicle charging network. We’re anxious to begin work this year on the project with our Indiana Utility Group partners and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Just over two weeks later, Gov. Holcomb on Sept. 30, 2021, signed the Regional Electric Vehicle for the Midwest memorandum of understanding along with the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The agreement seeks to, “safeguard economic security, grow jobs, futureproof interstate commerce, reduce harmful emissions, improve public health and advance innovation,” according to a news release on the agreement.

“As the Crossroads of America, transportation plays a vital role in Indiana’s economic success and continued growth,” Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said when the project was announced. “I’m proud to partner with our neighboring states to put the Midwest region on the leading edge of providing the charging infrastructure needed to futureproof our transportation network and meet the demand as rapid adoption of electric vehicles continues.”

Recognizing the role EVs can make in the state’s economic future and growth is key. The governor’s office says roughly 105,000 new Indiana jobs are expected to help develop EV charging infrastructure by 2030.

Fortune 500 companies like Cummins, Inc. – which has global headquarters in Columbus, Indiana – are already on the cutting edge of technologies to advance EVs. Attracting more companies to Indiana in the EV sector and encouraging existing companies to explore options for EV infrastructure deployment – including research and development by our universities — stands to benefit all Hoosiers.

Purdue University engineers in November announced the development of a new, patent-pending EV charging station cable capable of fully charging an EV in less than five minutes, comparable to the amount of time it takes to fill up a vehicle with gasoline. The project was funded by a research and development agreement between Purdue and Ford Motor Co.

The passage of the $1.2 trillion federal bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November brought with it added support for EV expansion at the state level as well.

According to the White House, under the IIJA, Indiana would expect to receive roughly $100 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. Indiana will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.

In December, the White House released the EV Charging Action Plan to outline steps federal agencies are taking to support developing and deploying chargers across the country. The following day, a memorandum of understanding was signed establishing a joint Office of Energy And Transportation focused on deploying EV infrastructure and working hand-in-hand to collect input and guidance from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers and other stakeholders to ensure equity in the deployment.

The White House is currently preparing to issue guidance and standards to states and cities in mid-February.

These investments in EV infrastructure stand to benefit all citizens with cleaner air, local jobs, reduced dependence on imported petroleum, support for domestic energy sources and overall improved quality of life. We praise Gov. Holcomb, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, utilities, Hoosier industries, universities, auto manufacturers, dealers and others for their work in getting us this far.

We look forward to working with all of them to put these plans into action in 2022 and beyond.

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.

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

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