BlueIndy, Indianapolis strike deal to save EV carsharing service

City Council Is Not Pleased

  • Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL
The electric car sharing program called BlueIndy hit nothing but rocks after a rosy announcement in May 2014. It planned to have a network of 125 vehicles and 25 charging stations running last December, and another 175 in operation at the end of this year. That plan required the Indianapolis Power & Light Company to pitch in for the purpose of building 1,000 stations at 200 locations that would service 500 cars, and that would have required an electricity rate hike to pay for, one that state regulators vetoed on the grounds that it wasn't fair to make all electricity users pay for a benefit that would be used by a tiny number of people.

Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard didn't give up on finding funding, eventually getting it from the city's current coffers: Ballard and the Public Works Department have agreed to plunder parking meter funds to provide $6 million to build 12 stations that can each charge five BlueIndy cars. The company behind BlueIndy will provide another $6 million to end the financial stalemate.

The Indianapolis City Council, however, isn't happy about what's happened, since Ballard and the PWD didn't consult the Council on the spending. Some legalese definitions appear to be involved, but the Council holds that parking meter revenue can only be spent on infrastructure projects - like "curb repairs" - in metered zones. A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said that the stations count for that because they'll be open to the public and built "in metered zones or in areas leading to metered zones." The stations are predicted to be completed sometime this summer.

Coincidentally - or not - this the second shaky financial deal concerning electric vehicles that Mayor Ballard has engineered while ignoring the city council. Trying to get his "Freedom Fleet" of electric vehicles for city government up and running, just this month Ballard cited "sloppy legal work" for the numerous and contradictory $32-million contracts with the company providing the vehicles, Vision Fleet. Concerning that deal, one council member called it "illegal" and said, "This whole fiasco should be stopped immediately."

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