By Jonah Chester
With $100 million in federal funding on the way, Indiana lawmakers are laying the groundwork for a new, statewide electric vehicle-charging network.
The Biden-Harris administration is allocating $5 billion over the next five years to create a nationwide system of charging stations, to help encourage electric vehicle use across the nation.
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, lead sponsor of a bill outlining how Indiana’s charging network could operate, said the proposal is just a starting point.
“This is an iterative bill, this is not a complete answer to how we’re going to handle electric vehicles,” Soliday explained.
Among other things, the legislation sets standards for pricing at charging stations, and establishes new parameters the state utility commission must consider when approving new charging-station projects. The measure has bipartisan support in the General Assembly, where it has passed several committees and the House of Representatives with unanimous votes.
The bill also would allow private companies to launch pilot charging networks for public-use electric vehicles, such as school buses. Utilities could recoup the cost of the pilot networks by raising their base charges to customers.
Kerri Garvin, executive director of the nonprofit Greater Indiana Clean Cities, said the pilot programs could streamline bigger projects down the line.
“Pilots allow companies and stakeholders to evaluate the feasibility, design, associated costs and benefits for larger-scale deployments,” Garvin pointed out.
According to the Pew Research Center, electric vehicle sales in the U.S. doubled from 2020 to 2021, and carmakers are planning to put an additional one million electric vehicles on the road before year’s end. The transportation sector accounts for nearly a third of America’s greenhouse-gas emissions.