Maine has received a $15 million federal grant to install nearly 600 electric vehicle charging stations in more than 70 cities and towns, increasing the number available by more than 50%.

The Biden administration on Thursday announced the funding to pay for 62 DC Fast Charger ports and 520 Level 2 charging ports. The 582 ports will add to the 1,019 already in operation at 467 sites, according to Efficiency Maine, the quasi-state agency that develops energy efficiency programs.

Building out an EV charging network has been a critical part of the debate in Maine over establishing new rules requiring electric vehicle use. An “Advanced Clean Cars II” plan would require zero-emission vehicles to make up 43% of new car sales for 2028 models and 82% of new sales by model year 2032. Those include electric and fuel-cell vehicles, along with a partial credit for plug-in hybrids. Environmentalists are urging action to reduce tailpipe fumes that account for a large part of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposal has drawn criticism from car dealers, Republicans and others who say EVs are too costly for many Mainers and that EVs don’t have the charging range to drive across the state’s vast rural areas. The state Board of Environmental Protection postponed its vote on the proposal in December due to a storm, but now could take up the matter sometime after a new public comment period that ends Feb. 5.

DC, or direct current, fast-charging ports provide anywhere from 100 miles to more than 200 miles of driving range for each 30 minutes of charging, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Level 2 charging gives motorists about 25 miles of range per one hour of charging.

“This is a pretty big deal,” said Michael Stoddard, executive director of Efficiency Maine.


The federal funding Maine is receiving is among the biggest on a per-capita basis, he said, and it follows tens of millions of dollars from a Clean Air Act settlement with Volkswagen in 2016; the Northeast Corridor transmission line project; the American Rescue Plan, or COVID-19 stimulus money; and federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure funding.

“That amount of funding will keep us busy for the next three or four years,” Stoddard said. “We’ll have a pretty robust charging network in the state.”

The project will serve urban and rural areas and include disadvantaged communities, officials said. Chargers are planned for communities in virtually all parts of Maine: from Old Orchard Beach to Calais; and from Machias to Mexico. One is scheduled to open in Rockland in the next several weeks, the governor’s office said.

Stoddard said initial funding was intended to put high-speed chargers on major corridors. The most recent award will be used to charge electric vehicles after motorists exit the highways, he said. Chargers will be installed at shopping centers and other sites near apartment buildings for renters who don’t have garages to charge their cars, he said. That feature helped make Maine’s application an attractive draw for federal money, Stoddard said.

Other chargers will be installed in so-called rural service centers such as doctor’s offices and hospitals, he said.

“By next summer we’ll see almost a dozen high-speed chargers from Kittery to Fort Kent,” Stoddard said.


The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future said the availability of public electric vehicle charging stations has more than doubled in Maine just since 2019, to 467 from 184. More expansion is planned through Recharge Maine, the state’s initiative to establish an EV charging network, especially along Maine’s most traveled roads and highways.

In recent months, fast chargers have become available in Auburn, Bangor, Belfast, Ellsworth, Lewiston, Fairfield and Newport. Funding has been committed for chargers in Ashland, Augusta, Baileyville, Brunswick, Danforth, Fort Kent, Houlton, Machias, Medway, Presque Isle, Rockland, Searsport, Van Buren and Waldoboro.


The number of registered battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Maine has increased by 33%, from 9,244 in 2022 to 12,369 at the end of last year, the governor’s office said.

Adam Lee, chairman of the board of Lee Auto Malls, said being able to charge electric vehicles when not at home is one of several factors that customers consider. His dealerships are selling only about five or six EVs a month, a small share of the 600 to 700 vehicles he sells, even with “very good incentives,” he said.

Until recently Lee said his dealerships had trouble getting inventory because of limited supply, though more are now being delivered.


Nationally, EV sales have more than quadrupled in three years, reaching 1 million last year. The number of publicly available charging ports in the U.S. has grown by nearly 70% to 168,426, White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi said. That’s about one-third of the Biden administration’s goal, with six years remaining.

Maine’s project is one of 47 in 22 states and Puerto Rico totaling $623 million in federal funding. President Biden has set a goal of at least 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030.

Progress on building out the network has been slow. Ohio and New York are the only states that have opened charging stations under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. Several other states, including Pennsylvania and Maine, have broken ground on federally funded projects and are expected to open stations early this year. Twenty-eight states and Puerto Rico have awarded contracts to build chargers or have accepted bids to do so.

The Maine Climate Council’s December 2020 report, “Maine Won’t Wait,” said transportation is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. It recommended “long-term and large-scale electrification” of the state’s transportation systems and efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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