Opponents to the government policy that seeks to expand electric vehicle use in Maine have argued, among other points, that too few charging stations are in place, particularly in the state’s vast rural reaches.

On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced that the state will add 52 high-speed electric vehicle charging stations at 17 locations in the next year, with many in rural areas.

“By extending the high-speed charger network to more rural areas of our state, we are making EVs a viable option for the vast majority of long-distance trips people take in Maine,” said Michael Stoddard, executive director of Efficiency Maine, a quasi-government organization that administers energy efficiency programs.

Seven sites in Cumberland County were chosen: two in Portland, three in Gorham, and one each in Bridgton and Windham. The other 10 sites are in Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. Sites were selected from the state’s Recharge Maine initiative, a partnership of the state Department of Transportation; Efficiency Maine; the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future; the Governor’s Energy Office; and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Maine must have a “robust charging infrastructure to help ensure that you can get there from here,” Mills said in announcing the funding. The federal and state spending will further expand access to high-speed, or Level 3, chargers in Maine, making long-distance travel more reliable, she said.

The fast-charging stations, which can power an EV from empty to 80% in 20 minutes to 1 hour, will expand Maine’s charging network along major highways such as Interstate 95, U.S. Route 2, U.S. Route 302 and areas of Portland and Bangor. The new locations also are meant to better serve visitors to the state’s universities and outdoor recreation areas such as Baxter State Park.


The nearly $8.6 million project will be paid for by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, a federal program financed by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan; and a settlement from the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project.

In its EV deployment plan, the state said the Nature Conservancy used focus groups in March 2021 among rural populations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont that identified range anxiety – fears that too few chargers would result in motorists being stranded – as a “key barrier to EV purchase.”

As a result, the state said its plan emphasizes rural areas that often include disadvantaged communities to increase confidence in EV travel “to and from and charge in any part of the state.”

“To that end, Maine wants to ensure that EV charging infrastructure is available on all important routes and at all major destinations,” officials said.

The expansion more than doubles the number of places where the state has paid to install high-speed EV chargers. Maine has funded these chargers at 15 other sites that are already open. There are publicly accessible high-speed chargers at more than 70 other locations statewide.

There are slower, Level 2 chargers – common in homes and workplaces – at 409 public sites in Maine, according to the state. These can charge a battery-powered EV to 80% in four to 10 hours and a plug-in hybrid EV in one to two hours.


Stoddard said there’s no policy that would “make a distinction” between costs for charging at a station built with public money and at a privately owned site such as a shopping center. Plugshare.com, which helps motorists find EV chargers and their costs, cites high-speed EV stations at shopping centers in South Portland charging between 37 cents a kilowatt-hour to about 56 cents.

The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Advocates say a wide network of charging stations must make EV use more accessible, particularly in Maine’s expansive rural areas, to reduce pollution from tailpipe emissions.


The politics of expanding EVs in Maine are strained. Car dealerships, many legislative Republicans and others oppose efforts by the state to establish broader EV sales. Opponents criticize the policy as government intrusion into personal decisions about private transportation.

The state Board of Environmental Protection in March rejected state standards that would have required increasing the share of electric and hybrid cars and trucks sold in Maine to 51% of all vehicles sold in 2028 and 82% of all vehicles sold in 2032.

The Legislature and Mills enacted legislation this spring giving state lawmakers, not the BEP, the final say on EV rules.


In January, Maine received $15 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to install 62 Level 3 fast charging ports and 520 Level 2 charger ports at more than 70 sites in 63 cities and towns. They will add to more than 1,000 public EV charging ports now available.

In April, Maine became the fifth state to open chargers funded by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program.

Currently, 830 Level 2 community ports at 409 sites and 241 high-speed charging ports at 88 locations are publicly available in Maine, according to the state.

Over the next several years, Maine will receive an additional $12 million from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program and $15 million from a U.S. Transportation Department grant program. Maine intends to use the money to establish fast charging every 50 miles or less along Maine’s major corridors, in urban areas and in rural service centers.


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