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A deep dive into Maine's response, one county at a time.

With other states vying for EV charging infrastructure, Maine hopes to get a jump start

Maine Public's electric vehicle, Pearl, charges as a high-speed charging station in Skowhegan, Maine.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
Maine Public's electric vehicle, Pearl, charges as a high-speed charging station in Skowhegan, Maine.

Maine hopes to have nearly 219,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, but it'll need to make some serious investments in charging infrastructure to get there.

And with about $37-million in federal and potential grant funding to spend on public electric vehicle infrastructure in the next few years, Maine wants to get a jump start on other states.

Installing fast-chargers every 30-to-50 miles along key routes is a top priority. An analysis of existing infrastructure found little coverage in Aroostook County and Down East, as well as some rural corridors in western Maine.

"These are the key gaps into the network," Molly Siegel, a program manager with Efficiency Maine, told members of the Maine Climate Council Transportation Working Group.

The group previewed the state's plans at a virtual meeting earlier this week.

State officials said they want spend 41% of the funds on EV infrastructure for disadvantaged communities using federal criteria, and they're planning to add three fast charging destinations on I-95 between Bangor and Houlton.

The plans also call for the installation of level-two chargers in off-street parking lots and other places that will be more convenient for drivers who don't have access to an EV charger at home. Level-two chargers are typically less expensive to install and operate, and drivers can recharge within two-to-12 hours.

EV chargers of all kinds are in high demand across the country, and Maine wants to secure funding for its own supply as quickly as possible, said Joyce Taylor, chief engineer for Maine's Department of Transportation and co-chair of the Climate Council Transportation Working Group.

"We have to beat California," Taylor said. "We have to beat some of these big states with a ton of money so that we're out and getting that equipment before they all get it, because I think as a country we're going to run out. I am really concerned about the supply chain here."

Maine hopes to submit a final plan by July 1, with the goal of getting federal approval by September.

The plans will be open for public comment once they're made available later this month.