INDIANAPOLIS — INDOT plans to invest more than $100 million to build electric vehicle charging stations across Indiana.
This is all thanks to a national program created by passage of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That means the general public, government agencies, schools and more can apply for a grant to have an EV station on their property.
INDOT hosted the second of three meetings Thursday at its sub-district off Brookville Road. Some community leaders say more meetings need to be held so all communities can have a voice.
"...and giving the opportunity to faith-based institutions, non-for-profits, underresourced schools and what we call our Black business enterprises to ensure that some of those EVs are located on their property, because it generates revenue," said Denise Abdul-Rahman, state chair of environmental climate justice for the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and facilitator of diversity, equity and inclusion for EV Infrastructure for Indiana.
Abdul-Rahman joins leaders from across the state advocating for placement of EV charging stations in diverse and underserved communities.
"There's a great economic divide between Black wealth and white wealth. There's a great unemployment gap, typically double the unemployment rate, and also there's just a lack of investment in a lot of our communities," said Abdul-Rahman.
Another concern among community leaders is the timing of the INDOT meetings.
INDOT scheduled three public meetings across Indiana. Those meetings are only offered between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and maximum of 50-60 people are allowed to attend in-person only.
At Thursday's meeting, INDOT representatives agreed to have an additional meeting and potentially make it virtual.
"I want to make sure that Black and brown and poor people, and those who are on the underbelly of life, do not get left behind in this transition. Studies have shown they are going to be the ones excluded if we don't get this right on the front side," said Dr. Lionel Rush, president at Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance Of Greater Indianapolis.
According to INDOT, approximately 59% of Indiana residents live in disadvantaged communities. All of the preliminary sites for EV stations are in or within 15 miles of at least one disadvantaged area. Also, 62% of the preliminary sites are in or within five miles of a disadvantaged area.
Developer and Indianapolis business owner Gary Hobbs of BWI said INDOT's plan opens the door for greater possibilities.
"I think it opens up the opportunity with some of the research that's taken place, not only with us, but also with Purdue and other car manufacturers of how can we create this kind of shared transportation solution," said Hobbs.
Hobbs' company installed four EV charging units at Posterity Scholar House in Fort Wayne, an energy-efficient apartment complex for single mothers.
"We wanted to look at holistically affordable rents and reducing utility costs and reducing transportation costs, so that those single parents can have more disposable income to invest in themselves, their education and their children," said Hobbs.
INDOT's next in-person meeting will be held on June 14 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seymour District Office.