BRISTOL, R.I. – Rhode Island is building up to 50 electric vehicle charging stations for motorists around the state and also plans to purchase hybrid or electric-powered vehicles for the state fleet whenever possible, the governor announced Tuesday.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said the moves, paid for by federal stimulus money, will help improve the state’s economy and save money on gas.

“We are developing a clean and efficient transportation infrastructure for the future, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants,” Chafee said in a written statement.

The first charging station is at Roger Williams University in Bristol. The others are scheduled to be installed by Sept. 30, said Allison Rogers of the state Department of Administration.

Before the announcement, Rhode Island had 11 publicly available charging stations. It is not known how many electric cars are currently registered in the state, but advocates say about 100,000 are on the road nationwide.

State officials said the stations will be installed in convenient places such as restaurants and shopping plazas as well as popular destinations like state parks and beaches. The stations will have two charging spots, and officials hope many will be free to use.

The state awarded a $781,225 contract to charging station company ChargePoint to find places for and to install the stations. Drivers will be able to use their smartphones or go online to reserve a station.

The state has already replaced 30 gas-powered cars in its fleet with hybrids and plug-in hybrids, Director of Administration Richard Licht said. The federal stimulus money will pay for the difference in upfront cost between those and gas-powered vehicles.The Associated Press