NWI communities get keys to electric cars
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 21, 2011 9:34PM
Kathy Kazmierczak, recycling director for city of Hammond, smiles as she looks Hammond's new THINK City electric car at the Purdue Technology Center in Crown Point, Ind. Wednesday September 21, 2011. Kazmierczak was glad to be replacing her department's "old gas guzzler" which only got 11 miles to the gallon. Eleven THINK City electric cars were given to 9 Northern Indiana towns. The electric cars are made in Elkhart. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 10, 2011 3:48PM
Kathy Kazmierczak is looking forward to retiring the city-issued older model Ford Crown Victoria she drives when performing her duties as Hammond’s recycling director.
“It gets 11 miles per gallon,” she said.
The THINK City all-electric vehicle Hammond and eight other Northwest Indiana municipalities took possession of Wednesday, facilitated through South Shore Clean Cities, will mean an end to the recycling director’s gas-guzzling ways and a chance to enlighten residents about alternative fuel vehicles as she tools around the city in the zero-emissions two-seat hatch-back.
“We have a lot of outreach programs,” Kazmierczak said. She is looking forward to the opportunity to spread the word about electric vehicles while she touts the city’s other environmentally friendly programs.
Hammond, Crown Point, Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Gary, Michigan City, Whiting, Dyer and Schererville each received one of the vehicles that has a sticker price of just over $36,000 but cost each community $10 per car. LaPorte got two cars and Angola, South Bend and Elkhart also received a car along with South Shore Clean Cities. Each community has the option to purchase a $4,000 extended warranty. The rest of the cost is covered by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants.
The program that put keys to the vehicles in the hands of officials Wednesday was a collaborative effort between Elkhart-based electric vehicle maker THINK, South Shore Clean Cities, the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition and the Indiana Office of Energy Development.
“The purpose of the program is to increase awareness ...,” said Brendan Brebo from THINK North America. The company has been a pioneer in electric car development for 20 years.
Carl Lisek, co-executive director of South Shore Clean Cities, said the electric cars cost about $1 to charge and will get about 100 miles per full charge. The vehicles are one component of an overall push to bring make electric cars a more viable option for consumers in Northwest Indiana.
Kevin Kirkham of Northern Indiana Public Service Co. said the utility company will invest $1 million in electric vehicle infrastructure as part of a plan to satisfy the terms of an agreement between the energy provider and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached in January to improve air quality from its coal-fired generating plants.
Kirkham said the company will launch a three-year pilot program that will provide financial assistance to the first 250 residents to install an electric car charging station at their home. Charging will be free from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the program. The company will also have 10 publicly available charging stations and will look into locations for a larger network of charging stations.
Crown Point Mayor David Uran said the city would like to have a couple charging stations on the downtown square to encourage residents to go electric. He said Crown Point’s THINK City car will be “wrapped” with a graphic covering calling attention to the electric vehicle. Plans call for using the car primarily in the Recycling Department.
The Office of Special Events also will roll out the vehicle to the many town functions to spread the word about electric.
“This is a great idea,” Uran said.