MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A proposal that would provide incentives for electric vehicle owners to install home charging stations and find sites for public charging stations that use renewable energy sources is under review by Indiana utility regulators.
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. developed the plan as part of a settlement between the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Air Act violations.
"We want to craft and design a program that not only creates stimulus for economic development but a program that's ultimately going to improve the local environment," NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer told The Times of Munster (http://bit.ly/o0ujSu ).
The company's plan would provide vouchers of up to $1,650 to 250 residential customers for installing 240-volt charging stations at their homes and any customer who installs a separate meter at their home for vehicle charging could power their cars for free for three years between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The Merrillville-based utility also plans a study to identify spots for 10 public charging stations it would open and a grant program to help public or private entities install vehicle charging stations or attract green technology businesses to the area.
Meyer said NIPSCO, which has about 460,000 electricity customers across much of Indiana's northern one-third, anticipated spending about $3 million on the program.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting on NIPSCO's plan Nov. 30 in Indianapolis.
John Gartner, research director of Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research, said NIPSCO's proposal is "progressive" and unique from what other utilities around the country are doing.
Steve Francis, Indiana chapter chairman of the Sierra Club, praised the utility's plan.
"The more that we have utilities actually involved in providing these kinds of innovations from a customer or business perspective, the more we will be known for innovative thinking and technology," Francis said. "And that's what's going to be key driving the jobs picture in the industry going forward."