A car charges up at an electric vehicle charging station on Commercial Street in Bath. Efficiency Maine is providing grant funding to build two similar stations in Cape Elizabeth. Contributed / Efficiency Maine

CAPE ELIZABETH — Cape Elizabeth is planning to build electric vehicle charging stations at the Community Services building on Ocean House Road and at Fort Williams Park.

The projects will be funded in large part by grants from Efficiency Maine, according to Town Manager Matthew Sturgis, with up to 80% of the cost paid, or $16,000 for each station. Sturgis estimated the stations may cost about $20,000 each, meaning the town would have to provide as much as $8,000-$10,000 of the cost. The money, he said, would come out of the town’s capital improvement budget. Sturgis said each station can accommodate up to four vehicles at a time

The town is committed to energy efficiency, and the stations are just one way of working toward that goal, Sturgis said. While the grant is new — Efficiency Maine only put out the request for proposals last fall — Sturgis said the concept of building electrical charging stations in town is not.

“It’s been looked at a couple of different times in the past,” he said.

What was different this time was the new charging station concept allows users to pay with a credit card for power, much in the same way that gasoline-powered vehicle owners pay at the pump. Previous grant proposals, Sturgis said, involved stations where the municipalities ultimately would foot the bill.

Sam Milton, chairperson of the town’s Energy Committee, said the Fort Williams Park location will be ideal, given the volume of tourists who drive to Cape Elizabeth every year.

“It’s a good way for the town to offer citizens and visitors a way to charge their vehicles,” he said.

Milton said the town needs to approve the additional expense as part of the 2022 budget. Assuming it does, he said, officials will put the project out to bid once the 2022 budget process is complete.

Efficiency Maine is a quasi-public nonprofit that works, according to its website, to “improve the efficiency of energy use and reduce greenhouse gases in Maine.” Executive Director Michael Stoddard said this week that the Cape Elizabeth project is just one of many the nonprofit has funded with grants started in 2018. Back then, he said, carmaker Volkswagen lost a multibillion-dollar lawsuit with the federal government over violations of environmental regulations. Maine, he said, received $22 million in the settlement, 15% of which was earmarked for developing chargers for plug-in battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. State legislators have also directed the Maine Public Utilities Commission to give $240,000 to the nonprofit’s grant efforts.

Right now, Stoddard said, there are just under 500 charging stations statewide. Of those, he said, the nonprofit’s grant program has paid for 164, and Stoddard estimated the grants will pay for 14 more before the year’s end. PlugShare, a website that maps existing stations, shows locations as far south as Kittery and as far north as Caribou.

“We are succeeding in starting to populate the state of Maine,” Stoddard said.

That’s important, Stoddard added, based on a new four-year plan from the Maine Climate Council, released in December, which estimates that if Maine is to meet carbon-reduction targets, there needs to be 200,000 electric or hybrid electric vehicles operating by 2030. Right now, Stoddard said, that number is estimated to be fewer than 5,000.

“We can get there, but we need to have the infrastructure to service those vehicles,” he said.

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