The Indiana State Conference of the NAACP called for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to ensure equity in the rollout of the EV charging infrastructure policies it is currently developing.
The state is set to receive $100 million in federal funding dedicated to the expansion of EV charging stations.
The Indiana State Conference of the NAACP
NAACP allies included members of the Indiana Alliance for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Economic Opportunity, elected officials, faith leaders and business and community advocates.
“We organized this meeting to address concerns about the IURC hearing regarding the 2022 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which amended The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act to require regulatory and non-regulated utilities to consider new rights to support transportation electrification,” said President of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP Barbara Bolling-Williams.
As a result of this act, utility regulators must consider rates that promote affordable and equitable vehicle charging options. This is for residential, commercial and public vehicle charging infrastructure.
David Greene is president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis. He asserted that the absence of Black community involvement in the electric charging station initiative would only perpetuate existing disparities. This leaves the Black community at a distinct disadvantage.
“We’re at a tipping point, both in the context of climate change and in the midst of a racial reckoning, as a country and a state. We in the urban community can no longer sit on the sidelines while the data continues to show that one’s zip code determines one’s destiny,” said Greene.
Collaborating with other partners
Along with this initiative, the NAACP and other vested stakeholders are proactively working to ensure that this EV charging network is accessible to all communities. They are doing this with a particular focus on fostering equitable access for communities of color.
At the core of this effort lies the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which will profoundly impact various regions within Indiana by strategically introducing charging stations to areas that currently suffer from limited accessibility.
“Discriminatory policies of the past cannot now be used to justify a continuation of systemic racism,” said Bolling-Williams, emphasizing that historically Black communities have received fewer investments in critical infrastructure.
Indiana State Conference of the NAACP’s six-point plan
To ensure a just and well-rounded rollout of EV charging stations, the NAACP outlined a comprehensive six-point plan. These are the demands that it is calling on the IURC to meet:
- A commitment to post online and transparent data. That can clearly show metrics and progress of inclusion (i.e. Race Conscious Ethnic Diversity Dashboard).
- A commitment to far exceed 10% minority business enterprise (MBE) goals. With intentional efforts towards race consciousness, Black business enterprises. Because MBE includes white women, veterans and other people of color.
- A commitment and enforcement to Black, racially and ethnically diverse workforce hiring and development. Along with apprenticeship, training programs, partnerships and opportunities with a fair chance.
- A commitment to place EV charging stations, grid resiliency improvements (including community owned solar) in and on Black, racially /ethnically diverse communities and business owned properties to include faith based institutions, under resourced schools and grassroot not-for-profits and adding a race conscious geo-mapping overlay.
- A commitment to quantify the projected air pollution to include greenhouse gas reduction. Based on the geographic placement in Black and racially/ethnically diverse communities.
- A commitment to an equity advisory board made up of Black, racially/ethnically diverse organizations to guide the current INDOT working group.
Five-year electric charging station expansion plan
The overarching goal of the five-year electric charging station expansion is to alleviate anxieties surrounding EV range limitations. That can be relieved by strategically deploying stations along highways and within communities.
“Our plan calls for workforce and training inclusion with a fair chance; a place where EV charging in our communities coupled with grid improvement and community-owned solar to ensure resiliency and placement in our underinvested communities,” said Abdul-Rahman, environmental climate justice chair of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP.
Notably, community input will play an instrumental role in determining the optimal locations for charging stations. This, in addition to influencing the regulation of rates and terms of service provided by electric providers.
The NAACP is also advocating for 40% of the funding to go toward disadvantaged communities.
The legal counsel representing the NAACP plans to have the proposed order for the IURC submitted by Sept. 5. Finalization of the infrastructure rollout strategy is underway through the Indiana Department of Transportation and the IURC.
An official blueprint is anticipated to be unveiled by the end of 2023.
Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON