The U.S. Department of Energy has selected South Shore Clean Cities to lead a statewide pilot program to promote sustainable vehicles, fuels and technology. The organization, which is headquartered in the Lake County town of St. John, aims to improve air quality, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote alternative fuel vehicles and previously served just 18 counties in northern Indiana. Executive Director Carl Lisek says replicating the organization’s model throughout the entire state will benefit all Hoosiers.
In a recent interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Lisek said the expansion will allow South Shore Clean Cities to broaden the number of entities it works with.
“The goal, really is to educate, to talk about all the things that really help our economy here in the state of Indiana,” said Lisek. “So, we are working with all of major manufacturers, utilities, governmental entities here throughout the state, so the goal is really for us not to work in silos. So, the idea really is for us to create opportunities for change and looking at things that really make good return on investments for our logistics and transportation needs.”
The DOE operates the national Clean Cities initiative and last year selected Indiana to pilot a statewide program, though the organization to lead the effort was not yet named. Lisek says Indiana’s manufacturing sector will be a key focus for the statewide expansion as decarbonization and energy resiliency become more of a priority for businesses.
“These are all things that are important to our major employers here in the state of Indiana and we want to take that lead and help educate that and really bring to fruition opportunities for us to move into some of the new 21st Century technologies and opportunities,” he said.
Among the ways South Shore Clean Cities plans to bring its model statewide is to expand its Green Fleet program, which seeks to improve the environmental performance of business and government vehicle fleets. Currently, the program has been implemented at two metropolitan planning organizations: the Michiana Area Council of Governments and the Northwestern Indiana Planning Commission.
Last year, the organization says it was able to help stakeholders secure more than $9 million in grants to purchase more than 175 vehicles and equipment, including infrastructure for charging and fueling.
The nonprofit says it plans to change its name to better reflect its new statewide reach. While it will remain headquartered in St. John, Lisek says plans are in place to set up satellite offices.
“We’ve had terrific partners – working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Office of Energy Development, the Department of Transportation,” Lisek said. “So, our goal really is to continue to work with Purdue University and we’ve had offices located within the Purdue Technology Center, so our goal – we’re signing leases currently – we’ll be located in Indianapolis and Evansville very shortly and so the goal is to continue to expand our statewide coverage working with our partnerships through Purdue University.”