NIPSCO Installs New Electric Charging Station in Highland’s Wicker Park

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: June 26, 2014

On Thursday afternoon in Highland's Wicker Park, North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, NIPSCO, and South Shore Clean Cities representatives celebrated the unveiling of the brand new electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Community members and EV drivers were invited to take part in the occasion.

In February 2014, NIPSCO launched their IN-Charge Around Town Program to help make alternative fuels more accessible to consumers in NWI. This installation is the first public charging station supported by the program. The program's goal is to make installations more affordable for businesses and organizations around the region so that more charging stations will be available. Incentives are offered to help with the up-front costs, installation costs, and software subscriptions of public charging stations for electric vehicles. The pilot program is a conglomeration between NIPSCO and South Shore Clean Cities.

"Wicker Park helped kick things off for us and we are excited to make these charging stations available to the community," Kathleen Szot, NIPSCO's External Communications Manager, said. "This is a great chance to come out and explore this type of technology and if you do know about it and you own an electric vehicle then come out and take advantage of it."

Will there be more charging stations installed around the area?

"We have another that has been deployed already up in Hammond and a number of others that I can't reveal yet," Deb Backhus, Sr. Environmental Scientist/Engineer for South Shore Clean Cities and Program Administrator for the IN-Charge Around Town and At Home Programs, said. "We're expecting between 50 and 80 to be installed across Northern Indiana."

During the next six months, residents with EVs can use one of the four charging stations at Wicker Park free of charge. This is an excellent way to bring tourism to the Highland area. People can come out and charge their cars, then stick around to see what Highland has to offer. It also helps to abate the concerns that some have about buying EVs because of the limited amount of places they can go due to lack of charging stations. Now that there will be more charging stations, drivers can venture out further.

As an administrator of township assistance, Mrvan is the CEO of Wicker Park, as well as in charge of other initiatives. He makes sure that it's taken care of and that the people in the community are proud of their home.

"The whole idea was to bring together two worlds: our facility as the recreation center and the new charging stations that NIPSCO provided. This will allow is to allow our environmental impact and it's an impact to bring new people into our park," Mrvan said. "Anything that is progressive and can keep us green is something we can get behind."

Brett Bierman, Park Superintendent found out about the program a few months back and followed the steps to make this idea a reality in Wicker Park.

"I heard about the grant and ran it by Frank and he was all for it. So we applied; we were the first ones to apply for it and got the ball rolling. Within four months we got these stations in," he said.

IEV drivers brought out their cars for all to see at the presentation and the ribbon cutting was unique because instead of giant scissors cutting the ribbon, NIPSCO's electric vehicle drove through green paper streamers -with everyone safely out of the way- to commemorate the experience.

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