Editorial: Incentives for EV industry give state a positive charge

Terre Haute Tribune-Star

ENTEK became the latest company to take advantage of federal and state government incentives in support of the burgeoning electric vehicle industry in Indiana when it announced in March that it would build a $1.5 billion lithium separator facility south of Terre Haute in Vigo County.

Earlier this month, ENTEK broke ground on the plant, marking the start of construction on a high-tech facility that the company says is its largest global investment so far. The company projects it will provide 650 “family wage” jobs at the plant by the end of 2027.

ENTEK was among the first companies selected by the federal government to receive incentive funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. That funding led the company to develop its plan to build a lithium separator facility, and Indiana’s pledge to ENTEK of $13.7 million in incentives helped it win that project for the state.

To its credit, Indiana has stepped up to become a player in the rapidly growing EV industry, with its efforts aimed so far at development of battery manufacturing and related components. Six projects — including the ENTEK facility — have been selected by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to receive a total of $332.4 million in performance-based tax incentives, grants and payments.

The biggest incentive package — $165.5 million in tax credits and grants and another $278 million in loans — came last year when the state announced it had landed its first EV battery plant in Kokomo. The StarPlus Energy Facility was awarded the largest single incentive package in state history and will employ 1,400 workers.

These hugely expensive incentive packages from federal, state and local governments come with their share of resistance and controversy. A question hangs heavy over these and other development projects: Is the public investment worth it?

When it comes to Indiana’s commitment to support the movement toward cleaner energy, it most certainly is.

Mitigating the effects of climate change is the primary purpose behind the rapid development of electric vehicles. The federal government is leading the charge, and states are responding with incentives of their own. Indiana has been home to a number of auto manufacturers in the past, so its efforts to tap into EV development may be more about saving Hoosier jobs related to the auto industry than saving the planet. But the result addresses both ends.

Other states are offering similar incentives to lure battery and other component plants related to EVs, so Indiana will have to remain competitive in what it offers to stay in the game. So far, it’s doing well enticing companies designed to feed the EV supply chain. For the sake of the Hoosier economy, that commitment should continue.