Maine lawmakers are considering a plan to launch a trial electric vehicle rebate for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles to find out if they will work in Maine’s challenging environment and if the state’s industrial sector is willing to give them a shot.

Environmental groups supported the idea, while industry representatives urged cautious support for a pilot program.

There was pushback, however, from lawmakers who think the state should use its electric vehicle funding to help low- and middle-income Mainers who are eager to buy electric cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks before subsidizing their purchase by reluctant for-profit corporations.

“Transportation is responsible for 54% of Maine’s annual greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sen. Henry Ingwersen, D-York. “In Maine Won’t Wait, the four-year plan for climate action, strategy A-1 is to accelerate Maine’s transition to electric vehicles.  … The goal of this bill is to do just that.”

The bill, L.D. 122, would direct Efficiency Maine, a quasi-public state agency that runs programs to improve the efficiency of energy use and reduce greenhouse gases in Maine, to offer rebates to promote heavy-duty electric vehicle use when possible among Maine’s industrial sector.

Ingwersen is still fine-tuning the bill, but at a Thursday hearing of the Legislature’s energy committee, the retired teacher and farmer said he thinks the rebate should cover the price difference between a standard commercial vehicle purchase or lease and its higher-priced electric counterpart.


Rebate amounts would vary depending on the type of commercial vehicle replaced. The price difference between an electric and gas-powered box truck might be only $25,000, while the differential for electric-propelled snow plow trucks or dump trucks might top $75,000 – if they even exist.


“It’s good to crawl before you walk and walk before you run,” Efficiency Maine Director Michael Stoddard said. “With these larger and heavier vehicles, these are not commonly made yet in EV models. You don’t see these just driving around the streets or in dealerships. These are still emerging.”

Lawmakers debated how to fund the two-year pilot program: through a $500,000 general budget appropriation or from the $6 million Efficiency Maine account that funds light-duty electric vehicle rebates. The rebate account is funded by legal settlements, not Maine ratepayers.

Some lawmakers questioned whether Maine should be offering financial assistance to incentivize reluctant for-profit corporations to embrace electric vehicle technology when there are low and middle-income Mainers who want electric-powered passenger cars but can’t afford them.

“That’s kind of money that could go, for example, to lower-income Mainers that could get a new vehicle that’s electric charging and maybe lower their out-of-pocket costs down the line,” said Rep. Sophia Warren, D-Scarborough, about using light-duty rebate funding to support the pilot program.


In the state climate action plan, Maine outlines a goal of creating policies, incentives and pilot programs to encourage the adoption of a wide range of electric vehicles, including medium and heavy-duty trucks, public transportation, school buses and ferries.

According to the plan, rapidly electrifying Maine cars and trucks is the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and meet the state’s climate change goals. Maine should have more than 40,000 electric cars on the roads in the next two years and more than 200,000 by 2030.

But a 2021 state report, the Maine Clean Transportation Roadmap, found public funding for electric vehicle incentives fell short and many Maine drivers do not want or cannot afford light-duty electric vehicles currently on the market.

Stoddard blamed supply chain disruptions for the electric vehicle gap, saying that Efficiency Maine had issued about $6 million in light-duty electric vehicle rebates to date. Before the disruption, Efficiency Maine was issuing about 1,200 light-duty EV rebates a year.

Even that pre-crash tally was “peanuts,” Stoddard noted. Mainers buy at least 60,000 new cars a year.

Maine had previously considered following California’s lead by requiring an increasing share of commercial trucks sold in the state to be zero emission. The state ultimately rejected the proposed regulation after it met with industry opposition.



Industry representatives told the committee they supported the bill concept, saying they want to reduce carbon emissions to protect Maine’s environment and its resource-based economy, but said they worried about the feasibility of available heavy-duty electric vehicles.

Matt Marks, a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of Maine, said many AGC members have doubts about whether electric batteries can run heavy trucks outfitted with power-hungry equipment, such as cranes, lifts and cement mixers, for an entire workday.

They may be persuaded to join the electric vehicle market if they see proof it can work, Marks said.

“One of the things that have to happen is the ability to put some of these things in the (field) to see what needs would be required,” Marks said. “This bill would help facilitate that as a pilot and help them experience that transition.”

Dana Doran, the director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, voiced “tepid” support for the bill. Most of his 210 members use heavy-duty trucks to haul timber in all seasons from remote forested areas of the state where there is no electrical infrastructure to other remote areas.


“We are certainly aware of the carbon footprint of our members and high diesel prices are not sustainable,” Doran testified. “But we also feel strongly that this industry cannot be mandated to use heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles in locations that lack all electrical infrastructure.”

Most of his logging contractors, who operate the heaviest of vehicles, don’t even have a market option.

“The market is not ripe,” Doran said. “We heard the bulk of heavy-duty trucks is not going to be electrified until 2030. You might want to just gather as much information as possible and make sure this is done right and don’t put the cart before the horse.”


Luke’s Lobster wants to switch over to heavy-duty electric vehicles to carry the lobster it now hauls in diesel trucks from wharves along Maine’s coast to its Saco processing plant, but cannot afford to do it without financial support, company co-founder Ben Conniff said.

Ben Conniff, co-founder of Luke’s Lobster in 2021. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

In 2022, Luke’s measured the carbon footprint of its supply chain and found ground transportation accounted for nearly 10 percent of its emissions, Conniff said. Reducing Maine’s emissions will slow the devastating effects of climate change on the Gulf of Maine, Luke’s primary source of lobster.

“The movement of live lobster between wharves and processors is a perfect example of where electric heavy-duty trucks could be used for routine business logistics while reducing dependence on fossil fuel,” Conniff said.

The drive between Luke’s Tenants Harbor wharf and its Saco processing plant is about 100 miles, a distance well within the range of today’s electric trucks, Conniff said. With chargers installed on both ends, an electric truck could be charged while loading at the dock and unloading at the plant.

“Transitioning away from diesel would reduce emissions and stabilize or improve day-to-day operating costs without any sacrifice to time or efficiency,” Conniff said. “This model is working for electric passenger cars, it will work for electric trucks, and we hope in the future we’ll see similar legislation for electric fishing boats, where an even greater portion of our carbon footprint originates.”

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