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Get a free charge for your electric vehicle: Mishawaka and Goshen get EV chargers – South Bend Tribune

Motorists with plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles are now able to recharge in downtown Mishawaka or at the Goshen Library, thanks to an Indiana grant that was made possible as the result of settlement money resulting from the 2016 Volkswagen emissions scandal. 
But the new two-car charging stations won’t be the last to come on line. In all, the Michiana area received $99,000 to install 11 stations that should become operational before the end of the year. 
The Michiana Area Council of Governments or MACOG worked with local government agencies to identify locations where two-car Level 2 chargers – capable of providing 25 miles of range per hour – could help fill spots where publicly-accessible chargers were needed. 
Because Mishawaka is attracting more residents and visitors to its downtown area, for example, it made sense to install a station in the public parking lot at West Front and North Mill streets near Ironworks Plaza, said Leah Thill, senior environmental planner for MACOG. 
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While the Level 2 units in downtown Mishawaka and at the Goshen Library are the first to become operational, nine more will be installed before the end of the year, including units in the visitor parking lots at the Potawatomi Zoo and at Indiana University South Bend. 
And as part of the program, individual two-car stations also will be installed in the downtowns of Goshen, Culver and Plymouth, and Elkhart and Warsaw will each get two for their downtowns. 
While the grant provided $9,000 per station, MACOG contributed $500 per unit to help offset the cost of providing free charging during the initial promotional period and to encourage the use of cleaner electric vehicles, Thill said. 
NIPSCO also contributed $500 for each station located in its service territory, and other organizations contributed to projects in their communities, Thill added. 
The units will be owned by the public agencies where they are located and the new stations will be identifiable on smartphone apps so that electric car owners can plan trips knowing where they can get a charge. 
As part of the agreement, the new chargers will provide the first two hours of charging for free for the next couple of years at which time each station owner will decide what fee to set to cover electricity costs, said Thill.  
Besides the chargers being installed in this region, additional units are planned for Crown Point, Gary, Lake Station, Michigan City, Whiting, Hammond, Portage, Burns Harbor, Highland, Merrillville and Munster as part of the overall application that was prepared by South Shore Clean Cities. 
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In all, 56 new stations are being installed across Indiana using settlement dollars with the lion’s share going to communities across northern Indiana. 
“These new charging stations will help advance electric vehicles in the state of Indiana,” said Ryan Lisek, project manager for South Shore Clean Cities. “Electric vehicles are good for the environment, and they get recharged with electricity made in the USA.”  
The chargers also can help spur economic development because they can attract residents as well as visitors who might opt to patronize a local restaurant, retailer or other business while getting recharged.  
Thill pointed out that access to public chargers in Goshen and Warsaw, for example, might encourage someone from South Bend with an electric vehicle to visit those cities if they know there are public charging stations.  
That’s what Jeff Morauski, co-owner of Taphouse on the Edge and Chicory Café in South Bend and Mishawaka, is hoping. With a new charging station located so close to the Mishawaka restaurant, customers might drop in while waiting for their vehicles to charge.  
“As we head in that direction, it’s definitely beneficial having a charging location located nearby,” he said.  
Though most people charge their vehicles at home, public charging stations help people overcome any range anxiety that might be holding them back from opting for an electric vehicle, said Thill. 
Beyond the Level 2 chargers that are planned for IUSB and the zoo, South Bend currently maintains two-vehicle chargers at the County-City Building and at Howard Park. And using American Rescue dollars, it plans to add up to four more in the coming year, said Evie Bauman, the city’s director of sustainability. 
“We’re in the process of determining where to put them,” said Bauman. “If possible, we’re hoping to get it done this year.” 
Though less than 1% of the vehicles in Indiana are plug-in hybrids or fully electric today, officials expect those number to grow substantially in coming years as many automakers have announced plans to move fully in that direction over the next decade.
That’s why it’s important to develop the infrastructure now to support those vehicles, said Thill. “It’s not about looking at where we are today but planning for what’s coming in the future,” she added. 
Using the same pot of state money available through the VW emissions settlement, about 60 Level 3 fast-charging stations – capable of providing hundreds of miles of driving in an hour charge – will be installed along highways and interstates across Indiana over the next two years, Thill explained. 
Though some might believe that prices for new electric vehicles are too high for the average consumer, there are more than a dozen models under $40,000 and some motorists reduce their cost even further by looking for used models, Thill said.
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Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil, electric vehicles also can save consumers money on energy consumption and routine maintenance, and that’s before any tax credits or rebates are factored into the equation, said Thill.
Except for the American Rescue dollars that will be used in South Bend, the remainder of the new charging stations will be built using money from the the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which was chosen to administer the $40.9 million that Indiana received as part of the $2.9 billion settlement between VW and the federal government in 2016.  
That settlement was reached because the automaker was accused of manipulating the software on its 2.0-liter diesel engines to skirt federal emission tests.