Winona Lake Council learns more about electric vehicles

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Leah Thill (R), Michiana Area Council of Governments director of sustainability, and Ryan Lisek, Drive Clean Indiana program director, speak to the Winona Lake Town Council Tuesday about electric vehicles. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Leah Thill (R), Michiana Area Council of Governments director of sustainability, and Ryan Lisek, Drive Clean Indiana program director, speak to the Winona Lake Town Council Tuesday about electric vehicles. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

In December, the Winona Lake Town Council in Indiana approved applying for a grant for up to three electric vehicles for the police departments. However, council members still had questions about EVs and the grant. On January 23, 2024, any lingering questions or concerns were answered by Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) and Drive Clean Indiana during a presentation.

In this presentation, Leah Thill, Director of Sustainability at MACOG, and Ryan Lisek, Program Director, at Drive Clean Indiana, discussed EVs and the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant.

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EV Market Space Growth

Lisek said, Lisek said, “When we start talking about electric vehicles and the recent state investment, we’re going to be looking at over $8 billion of investments that are going to be going in the great state of Indiana over the next two years, and these all deal with the manufacturing of the automotive space that supports electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as well.”

There is a big transition happening into the “electric space and market” and more and more companies are going to be developing the “actual models that we know and love,” he said.

When it comes to cost, Lisek addressed how prices are becoming “more and more affordable for the average” person.

“And all those, coupled with the operations and maintenance savings are pointing to a longer-lasting EV transition that is going to be attainable by almost every American that is wanting to buy an electric vehicle,” he said.

According to 2023 sales, the best selling EVs were Teslas. The Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3 remained two of the best sellers of the years. Lisek said EVs are only going to increase in accessibility and affordability, becoming more and more common. He also discussed the different types of EVs.

Will EVs Offer Enough Power for Police Officers?

The battery EVs are battery only, with a range anywhere from 100 to 400 miles. These battery EVs have no tailpipe emissions and offer regenerative braking. Plug-in hybrid EVs have an engine and battery working together, which increases fuel efficiency. Hybrids typically have a 20 to 50 mile electric range as well as regenerative braking. Additionally, hybrids have an engine and battery and increased fuel efficiency.

“So the electric vehicles for police and what we’re looking at here, is there are multiple American-made options. We’re looking at a fuel savings. There’s going to be no more trips to the gas station. We’re going to be able to charge at town hall and charge overnight and charge at police officers’ homes,” Lisek said.

Lisek also cleared up EV power and acceleration as it applies to the operations of the police. “There’s no lack of power, and after it’s all said and done, there’s a lot of different financial incentives and for the first time in recent history, there’s going to be incentives that non-taxpaying entities like municipalities can take advantage of to overall lessen that cost and total cost of ownership,” he said.

Twenty percent of gasoline used by police vehicles is used to power the vehicle while it’s idle. Lisek said with EVs, there’s very little power consumed while in park. While efficiencies vary by models, “what we’re seeing here is basically 300-400 miles worth of range once it’s all said and done, and there’s different accessory mode options that make it more efficient to operate off a low-voltage system and there’s no carbon monoxide poisoning as associated with that.”

Lisek emphasized how EVs can quickly accelerate in comparison to a gas-powered vehicle. “These cars are quick. It’s an instantaneous torque. We’re not waiting on a combustion engine to kick in,” Lisek stated.

As it applies to charging, Lisek explained the three different types of chargers, and expressed how Level 3 chargers will primarily be used for the police. “So we’re going to see more and more of those (Level 3) as we develop here, and that’s what the GoEVIN program is all about,” Lisek said. To learn more from the Department of Energy, he directed everyone to the GoEVIN.org website.

Thill said MACOG has been fairly active in supporting local governments in pursuing grants for EVs and EV charging. “We were just awarded last week a grant for about $1 million to put fast charging along U.S. 30 in Warsaw, so that will be something we’ll be funding over the next couple years through a federal competitive grant that we were awarded. And, in addition, a level 2 charging station for the public that was proposed to be located here just outside Town Hall. So look for those investments coming in the future,” she said.

Council members asked questions about battery life, insurance, and cold weather efficiency. Their questions and conners were appropriately addressed by Lisek and Thill.

“I just want to say thank you. I’ve been a huge advocate for a long time, and thanks for coming to educate everyone because you guys are being extremely conservative with what you’re putting together out there, too. … I just appreciate it,” Council Vice President Austin Reynolds stated.

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