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Casco Bay Lines To Purchase A Diesel-Electric Hybrid Ferry For Portland-To-Peaks Island Runs

Robert F. Bukaty
AP Images
A ferry crosses Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, at sunrise, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.

The next new passenger boat for Casco Bay Lines will run almost completely on electricity.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins Tuesday announced a $3.2 million federal grant to aid in the purchase of a cutting edge diesel-electric hybrid engine for a ferry that will make the run from Portland to Peaks Island.

"We will be able to run fully electric, back and forth, and charge in ten minutes on the Portland side of the run."

Transit District General Manager Hank Berg says the move will save some 800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. He adds that Scandinavian countries have been using the technology for years, but it's only now gaining acceptance in the United States.

Berg says the diesel engines will act mainly as backup or for trips longer than the two and a half mile ride to Portland. He adds that the district is working with Central Maine Power to address what could be the prohibitively high cost of charging up during peak hours.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.