Fast charger network to offer EV drivers new options in Indiana

Drivers pulling off the interstate in Indiana to fill their gas tanks may soon encounter another type of auto fueling up during their stops: electric vehicles.

Wabash Valley Power is one of eight utility partners planning an electric vehicle fast charger network across Indiana. WVPA plans to install four chargers: near Interstate 65, Interstate 70, Interstate 74 and U.S. 31. They will be part of a planned network of more than 60 high-speed direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations installed along transportation corridors. The utility group hopes to install the chargers over the next several years.

“The new charging network in Indiana will give electric vehicle owners many more options to recharge their EVs while on short or long-range trips,” said Joan Soller, director of grid innovation and portfolio integration for Wabash Valley Power. “One of the primary concerns of people interested in EVs is range anxiety, or uncertainty of running out of electricity while driving. The new chargers will go a long way to alleviate those concerns.”

DCFC stations can fully charge an EV battery in 20 to 30 minutes, depending on battery size, Soller said. Each station will be able to charge up to four EVs simultaneously. Some chargers are expected to be installed at gas stations, since people are already accustomed to refueling there, or at stores or other businesses where people can shop and take a break while the vehicle charges.

The DCFC charger network will be funded in part from the nearly $41 million that Indiana expects to receive as part of the $2.9 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust from the Volkswagen Corp.’s settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Funding from the trust is to offset the excess air pollution emitted by Volkswagen vehicles that violated the Clean Air Act, IDEM reported on its website.

“More electric vehicles have been announced for development the last several years, and this new charging network will be incredibly beneficial for drivers of those EVs,” Soller said. “We are excited about the opportunities that this network can bring for the future electric co-op members and visitors to the Midwest.”