A recently installed high-speed electric vehicle charging station in North Windham marks the completion of the first phase of an expanding public network across Maine, at a time when both the government and automakers are promoting a transition to electric cars and trucks.

At a ceremony Monday in North Windham, Efficiency Maine showed off a so-called “level 3” charging station in the parking lot of a Hannaford supermarket. It’s the seventh and final station in the first phase of a network that now includes chargers at the Kennebunk and West Gardiner plazas of the Maine Turnpike, as well as locations in Jackman, Skowhegan and Farmington.

A so-called level 3 or DC fast charger at the Hannaford supermarket in North Windham. It can add up to 250 miles of range to an electric vehicle battery in an hour. Photo courtesy of Efficiency Maine

The stations, also known as DC fast chargers, can add up to 250 miles of vehicle range in an hour. The cost to use each charging station is 18 cents per kilowatt hour, plus 15 cents per minute for parking. Payment can be made by credit card, mobile app or RFID swipe card.

The chargers were funded with settlement money from a federal emissions scandal lawsuit against Volkswagen. The charging station in North Windham cost roughly $200,000 to build.

Located by Route 302, the North Windham station is aimed at visitors who traverse the region to reach ski areas in the winter and Sebago Lake recreation areas in the summer, as well as local residents and businesses.

“We deliberately chose these first seven charging locations because of their strategic value for local communities and drivers traveling to and from neighboring states and provinces,” said Michael Stoddard, executive director of the Efficiency Maine Trust. “In addition to helping Mainers make longer in-state day trips, this fast-charger network accommodates the growing number of EV (electric vehicle) drivers traveling on business or for vacation from Quebec, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and southern New England.”

The North Windham station is the third Hannaford location in the network to host EV charging plugs. There also are stations at the Skowhegan and Farmington stores.

“Having EV charging stations at our stores is just one more way we share the journey of sustainable living with our customers,” said George Parmenter, brand leader of health and sustainability for Hannaford Supermarkets.

Many EV drivers are able to do most of their routine charging at home or work. But as more electric vehicles hit the road, a robust network of publicly available charging stations is considered essential to easing what’s known as range anxiety, drivers worrying about running out of battery on longer trips.

Efficiency Maine has helped fund 150 new plugs in Maine’s public EV charging network, which has now grown to 114 DC fast chargers and 375 level 2 “community” plugs. Level 2 units can provide between 14 and 35 miles of range per hour. They are useful when a car can be left plugged in for longer periods.

This activity is happening as the administration of Gov. Janet Mills promotes the state’s Climate Action Plan, which sets an ambitious goal of putting 41,000 light-duty EVs on the road by 2025, and 219,000 by 2030. The plan calls for developing a “roadmap” by next year to identify the policies and incentives needed to get to those levels.

Reaching those targets will be a challenge. There now are only 4,000 to 5,000 EVs registered in Maine. Surveys vary, but Americans on average keep their cars for roughly 10 years.

For drivers who are ready to switch, Efficiency Maine has two programs that help offset the cost of vehicles and chargers, chiefly using $3 million from Maine’s share of the Volkswagen settlement. The trust offers $2,000 rebates on qualified electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Those instant rebates can be combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit for eligible vehicles.


Maine’s EV plans may be bolstered by national and global actions.

President Biden has announced ambitious electric vehicle charging goals as part of his administration’s massive infrastructure improvement initiative. It envisions $15 billion invested through grants and incentives to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations. Republicans, however, have rejected the proposal as too costly and it’s unclear how the political wrangling will play out.

But most of the world’s automakers see an inevitable shift from gasoline to electric and have begun the transition. General Motors, for instance, says it will stop building gas and diesel vehicles by 2035.

Currently, electric vehicles make up only 2 percent of new sales in the United States. But manufacturers are beginning to offer a wider variety of battery-powered cars and light pickup trucks.

Some of the pressure away from gasoline is coming from state governments. Both California and Washington have announced plans to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles. Earlier this month, the governors of a dozen states, including New York, California and Maine, asked Biden to back a ban on new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

With the first phase completed, Efficiency Maine is working to extend the high-speed charger network north through Bangor and east along Route 1. On April 21, Efficiency Maine closed a request for proposals to serve communities along Interstate 95 from Waterville to Bangor-Brewer, Route 1 from Rockland to Ellsworth, and Lewiston-Auburn. Awards are expected to be announced by May 12. That will use up the balance of the Volkswagen settlement money, Efficiency Maine said.

Efficiency Maine has been working since 2018 to minimize the obstacles to electric vehicle adoption. That’s when it contracted with ChargePoint, a California-based EV infrastructure company, to install DC fast chargers for the first phase of the initiative.

More information about electric vehicle technology is available at efficiencymaine.com/ev. Drivers who want to know where plugs are located can find a charging station locator on the Efficiency Maine website or by using a variety of available smartphone apps.

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