Cashel Stewart, South Portland’s sustainable transportation coordinator, at one of the city’s 11 municipal electric vehicle charging stations. South Portland is now offering a grant to businesses who want to install charging stations on their locations. Courtesy photo Cashel Stewart

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city is launching a new grant program with a focus on sustainability and economic development.

South Portland’s Economic Development and Sustainability Departments on June 21 announced that businesses can apply for Economic & Sustainable Development Grant Program. It is divided into two grants, the Conditional Economic Development Grant and the Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Grant.

The grants are congruent with the city’s One Climate Future Plan, a joint climate action plan between South Portland and Portland, said William Mann, South Portland’s economic development director.

According to the plan, the cities have a goal of requiring 20 percent of spaces in new garages to have electric vehicle chargers by 2026 and 5 percent of parking spaces in all lots and garages in the cities to have Level 2 electric vehicle chargers by 2030.

The Conditional Economic Development Grant is targeted at businesses focused on making building improvements, Mann said. The Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Grant is for businesses who are seeking to add charging stations at their locations.

“Building improvements can range from solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, general rehab of a space that was set up for one use or one tenant, and a new business comes into the building and has a different use,” Mann said. “Depending upon what the various aspects are of what they’re proposing, that would allow it to go up to potentially as high as $50,000, but they have to put in a minimum of $100,000 in investments and maintain or create 15 jobs in the city. There are also some requirements in terms of providing benefits and wage levels for those employees so that they’re quality jobs.”


The city has specific milestones with electronic vehicle charging, and the new grant could incentivize more businesses to participate, Cashel Stewart, sustainable transportation coordinator, said.

“There are people out there who might want to offer workplace charging as an incentive to their employees, and electricity is not that expensive compared to gasoline,” Stewart said. “It’s like a third of the cost of gasoline. One of the reasons we combined the grants is we believe that sustainability and achieving the goals set by the the city broadly and specifically in the one climate future plan.

“It’s good business. It’s good for business, and it’s good for the city. Some of the folks who may qualify for the EV Charging Grant may not have need for the Conditional Economic Development Grant, but it makes sense to market them together.”

Recipients of the Level 2 Electric Vehicle Grant can be awarded up to 50 percent of the cost, up to $5,000 per plug, and businesses are eligible for up to six plugs, Stewart said.

For the General Economic Dev grant, applicants can receive up to a total of $50,000 for an individual grant, Mann said.

“However, it is expected that the grants will run probably closer to $25,000 and in no circumstance can they be more than 50 percent of a project’s cost,” he said.


The program hopes to help the One Climate Future Plan be successful by involving South Portland businesses, said Mann and Stewart.

“We have specific milestones and actions that are set forth in the plan and specifically with EV charging,” Stewart said. “We have goals in the city to electrify more homes We have goals to build out a wide array of charging options for people, create a culture around EV and make people comfortable to make the leap and buy an EV.

“It all starts with creating partnerships with businesses. Our grading criteria is picking businesses that are highly noticeable, have a lot of foot traffic. We’re just trying to reach as many people as we can here.”

Funding for these grants comes from a city TIF account, which had funded the COVID-19 Hardship Small Business Grant Program that expired on June 30, Mann said. There is another allocation of $75,000 from the Capital Improvement Plan for One Climate Future.

Those interested in the grant can apply at Stewart said the city can print or translate the applications if needed.

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