The alert went out after electrical outlets at the homes of two IMPD officers melted. It turns out the cars can only be plugged into outlets with a dedicated circuit in order to avoid electrical hazards and fires. Advance Indiana hears that Ballard, upon hearing this news and despite a lawsuit filed by the City-County Council to void the contract, ordered 23 more electrical cars from Vision Fleet for the department.
It's not just the city fleet having difficulty with electric vehicles. An IndyGo rider contacted Advance Indiana to complain about one of the handful of electrical buses in operation being halted mid-transit. Riders were ordered off the bus because it lacked enough juice to complete its route and had to be taken off line to be re-charged. Riders fumed as they were forced to wait an extended period of time before a back-up bus could be brought out to allow them to continue their transit. Apparently there were charging problems with the electric buses awhile back as well when inadequate outlets used for re-charging the buses caused significant damage that could have been much worse had it not been discovered when it was.
Expect some big developments next week on the Blue Indy front. It looks like the controversial and illegal electric car sharing program could soon come to a halt over the objections of Mayor Ballard. The illegal cars might just start getting towed if Ballard doesn't remove them from the city's streets.
UPDATE: The Indianapolis Star now has a milquetoast story on this latest flap, essentially flagging readers on, not much to see here.
Citing safety concerns, the city has ordered its police officers and other employees to stop charging their municipal electric cars at home.
The suspension comes after circuit overloads in the houses of five employees with take-home Vision Fleet cars. None of the overloads caused fire or injury, but two damaged electrical outlets, said Department of Public Works spokesman Scott Manning.
The shorts likely happened because the cars were not charged on dedicated circuits, Manning said. The cars are generally juiced in a home garage 110-volt three-pronged outlet and require as much electrical current as a refrigerator or a space heater. The cars are Chevrolet Volts, Nissan Leafs and Fusion Energis. The short circuits did not damage the cars, Manning said.
Manning said inspectors for Vision Fleet will visit the homes of each employee who has taken homes cars to make sure the outlets are not shared and to recommend rewiring the home when necessary
“They’ll inspect the wiring to make sure the outlet can handle it,” he said. “Obviously not everyone knows exactly how their house is wired.”
He did not know how many employees had take-home electric cars but said they include police officers and supervisors for the DPW and code enforcement departments . . .The Star continues to pretend this whole matter is just a bunch of partisan bickering between the council and Mayor Ballard, ignoring the undisputable illegalities of his actions.
Advance Indiana is also hearing from other city employees that city officials were aware of this problem weeks ago. In this e-mail below, Deputy Chief Bryan Roach e-mailed employees driving the Chevy Volt after an employee's electrical outlet melted while charging the car. Employees were reportedly told when they first received the cars to use the most powerful charger setting when charging the cars at home to "maximize our electric miles." One employee said they were told if you can run a hair dryer with an electrical outlet without blowing a fuse, then you can use it to charge your car.
The instruction manual for the Chevy Volt clearly warns operators that "charging an electric car can stress a building's electrical system more than a typical household appliance." It recommends that a qualified electrician inspect and verify your home's electrical system for heavy-duty service at a 12 amp continuous load. The City clearly did not require an electrician to check the outlets employees planned to use for charging their cars in advance. The manual includes a warning that improper use of portable electric charge cords may "cause a fire, electrical shock or burns, and may result in damage to property, serious injury or death." I'm also hearing that employee's homeowner's insurance policies likely don't cover any property damage caused while charging a city-owned electric car.
As the heat turns up, Advance Indiana hears that Mayor Ballard's controversial corporation counsel, Andrew Seiwert, left the City for a new job in state government. DPW's Chief of Staff Jeremiah Shirk, whose testimony to the council's Public Works Committee recently so frustrated council members, has also left his job with the City.