The first strand in a statewide web of high-speed electric vehicle chargers will go into place next year.

Efficiency Maine, an agency that promotes energy efficiency, has contracted ChargePoint Inc., a California company, to install and operate seven charging stations on highways from southern Maine to the Quebec border.

The stations are the start of a three-phase plan to establish publicly available, fast chargers on important thoroughfares for tourists and Maine residents.

“When we are done with phase one and phase two we should have a pretty good network along these major corridors spread out every 50 miles, give or take,” said Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine executive director. The quasi-public agency administers the state’s energy efficiency programs.

ChargePoint will put ultra-fast charging stations at the Maine Turnpike visitor plazas in Kennebunk (northbound and southbound) and West Gardiner, on Route 302 in the Bridgton and Naples area, in Farmington near the intersection of Route 2 and Route 27, in Jackman and in another location along Route 201.

Each location will feature two ultra-fast chargers and one Level 2 charger. Ultra-fast models can deliver up to 240 miles of range in a single charge and only take a half hour to fuel a vehicle battery to 80 percent. The Level 2 chargers will serve drivers with more time, vehicles that cannot take a fast charge or hybrid plug-in vehicles.

It is expected to cost $1.7 million to install and help maintain the seven charging stations over a seven-year contract with ChargePoint. The private company will bill users and put up some of the money to install chargers on private property.

Efficiency Maine’s contribution to the cost is taken from the $21 million Maine was paid by Volkswagen to compensate for cheating fuel efficiency standards on diesel passenger vehicles. States were allowed to spend up to 15 percent of the settlement on electric vehicle equipment, which came to about $3.1 million in Maine.

“Obviously one of the objections was to advance the purposes of the VW settlement, to remedy the problem VW caused by cheating on emissions control,” Stoddard said.

“At least as important from Maine’s perspective was trying to start to build some of the infrastructure that can help users in a transition to cleaner, more efficient, lower-cost transportation systems.”

There are about 430 all-electric cars registered in Maine, a fraction of the 1.3 million vehicles in the state.

Two years ago, Gov. Paul LePage and then Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard agreed to create a vehicle charging network for Canadian tourists visiting the state. The Quebec government has a plan to have 100,000 registered electric vehicles by 2020.

The seven fast chargers, installed by next spring, will build the backbone of that network and the next phase will add fast-charging stations in eight to 10 more locations on the midcoast, western Maine and to Mount Desert Island, Stoddard said. The final phase will add up to 50 chargers with lower power along the network to let drivers “top up” he added.

The marketplace is not going to really move into electric vehicles until those buyers can feel confident they can travel where they want to go with their new car,” Stoddard said. “Creating this new network of fast chargers will help speed that process along.”

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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