The Growing EV Charging Network Across Maine

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The Growing EV Charging Network Across Maine

Electric vehicle (EV) adoption and charging infrastructure are growing rapidly in Maine. As of January 2023, there were over 12,000 EVs registered in the state, up from just a few thousand in 2018. This growth is being driven by several factors:

  • Improving EV technology and falling battery costs making EVs more affordable. Many new, long-range EVs can travel over 200 miles on a single charge.
  • Increasing awareness and demand from consumers for zero-emission vehicles.
  • Government incentives at both federal and state levels that reduce the upfront cost of purchasing an EV.

To support this rising number of EVs, Maine has seen large expansions in public charging infrastructure over the past few years. In 2015, there were only about 100 public charging stations statewide. Today there are over 600, with many more planned. Most public stations are Level 2 chargers which can provide around 25 miles of range per hour of charging. DC Fast charging stations, which can charge an EV much more rapidly in around 30 minutes, have also increased from just a couple locations to over 25 today.

Maine’s scenic landscapes and coastal regions have also begun attracting EV-driving tourists from all over New England and beyond. This provides an opportunity to continue expanding charging options to support tourism growth. Overall, Maine is on the leading edge of EV adoption in New England, though still significantly behind EV leader California. If current growth trends continue, EVs could make up over 5% of Maine’s vehicles by 2025. But ensuring adequate charging infrastructure remains a key challenge.

Current Landscape

Maine currently has over 500 public electric vehicle charging stations located across the state. The stations are concentrated mainly in the southern part of Maine, especially around the Portland and Bangor metro areas.

The major charging networks operating in Maine include:

  • Electrify America – Has over 50 charging stations, mostly DC fast chargers located at Walmarts and along major highways. Charging costs range from $0.31-$0.43/kWh.
  • ChargePoint – Operates over 250 charging stations. Offers Level 2 chargers at many hotels, restaurants, malls and workplaces. Charging is free at some locations or costs $1-2 per session.
  • Greenlots – Manages charging for the state’s Volkswagen settlement fund stations. Has over 50 DC fast chargers along highways and in small towns, with charging around $0.25/kWh.
  • Tesla – Operates 9 Supercharger stations exclusively for Tesla vehicles. Charging costs around $0.28/kWh for Tesla owners.

Maine also has over 100 charging stations at state parks, colleges, municipal lots, retailers and other locations. Usage fees are set by each owner and range from free to around $1 per hour of charging.

Public Charging

Public charging stations are located at various places across the state of Maine to serve EV drivers who need to charge while away from home. These stations allow both locals and visitors traveling through the state to top up their EVs as needed.

The major networks providing public charging in Maine include:

  • Electrify America – Part of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate settlement, Electrify America has been rapidly expanding its charging network across the US. They currently have over 25 charging sites located near major highways, retail locations, and tourist destinations in Maine. The charging power ranges from 50kW to 350kW. Charging costs vary based on the charging speed, but average around $0.31 per kWh.
  • ChargePoint – ChargePoint is one of the largest charging networks in Maine with over 100 public charging spots located at places like parking garages, grocery stores, hotels, etc. The charging power ranges from 7kW Level 2 to 62.5kW DC Fast Charging. Pricing is set by the charging site host, but costs about $1-2 per session plus $0.25-0.50 per kWh.
  • Greenlots – Greenlots operates around 50 public charging ports in Maine, mostly located in Portland and the southern part of the state. Their stations provide 7kW to 62.5kW charging. Pricing varies by location but averages around $1 per session plus $0.35 per kWh.
  • Blink – Blink has about a dozen public charging locations in Maine’s larger cities like Portland and Bangor. The stations offer Level 2 charging up to 7kW. Charging costs around $0.39 – $0.49 per kWh.
  • Tesla – Tesla has 9 Supercharger sites located near major highways in Maine exclusively for Tesla drivers. These stations have up to 24 Superchargers that provide up to 250kW charging. Charging costs a flat rate based on kWh, around $0.28 per kWh.

Workplace Charging

Workplace charging is an important component of Maine’s EV infrastructure and adoption efforts. Companies are recognizing the benefits of installing EV chargers for employees, including reduced emissions, employee satisfaction, and attraction of talent.

Maine has seen steady growth in workplace chargers over the last few years. Major employers like L.L. Bean, Idexx, Wex, and the University of Maine have installed charging stations. Overall there are over 150 public-facing workplace chargers in the state.

The leading incentive is Efficiency Maine’s Workplace Charging Pilot Program launched in 2018. It offers businesses rebates up to $5,000 per station installed. To date they have supported the installation of over 50 Level 2 chargers at workplaces.

There are also efforts by environmental groups. The NRDC and Maine Conservation Voters have the Maine Workplace Charging Initiative to educate and assist employers in installing EVSE. They published a workplace charging guide detailing the benefits, costs, and process.

While the current numbers are promising, there is room for growth to meet employee demand. As more Mainers go electric, employers should evaluate workforce charging needs. Targeted state incentives and support programs can help expand this infrastructure. Overall workplace charging will play an important role in achieving Maine’s transportation electrification goals.

Home Charging

Installing an electric vehicle charging station in a home garage or carport is the most convenient way to charge an EV. Home charging stations provide EV owners with the ability to plug in and charge their vehicles overnight.

Typical Home Installation Costs

The cost of purchasing and installing a home EV charging station ranges from $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the type of charger and complexity of installation.

  • Level 1 chargers that simply plug into a standard 120V outlet are the most affordable option, costing $200 to $500 for the equipment. However, they provide very slow charging, adding only a few miles of range per hour.
  • Level 2 chargers that require 240V wiring installation are more common for home use. The charger unit costs $400 to $700. Professional installation costs $600 to $1,200 on average, including materials and labor.
  • More advanced smart chargers with wifi connectivity, scheduling features, or higher power output can cost $800 to $1,500 for the equipment. With installation, some homeowners pay $2,000 or more for premium EVSE.

Challenges and Considerations

Installing an EV charger at home has some unique challenges to consider:

  • 240V circuit installation – Most homes will require electrical upgrades to support a Level 2 EVSE. The existing electrical panel must have sufficient capacity and installers may need to run new wiring to the garage or driveway.
  • Permits – Most areas require permits and inspections when installing new electrical circuits or EVSE equipment. The process can be time consuming.
  • HOA restrictions – Homeowners associations may prohibit or restrict EV charging installs for aesthetic or other reasons. EV owners will need to get HOA approval.
  • Cost – In addition to the charger and installation costs, some utilities charge fees or higher electric rates for home EV charging, adding to the expense.
  • Contractor experience – Finding contractors familiar with EVSE installation can be difficult in some regions. Lack of experience may result in delays or improper installs.

Despite these challenges, a home EV charger provides the greatest flexibility and convenience for EV owners. As EVs gain popularity, the installation process is likely to improve.

Tourism Impact

The tourism industry is a major part of Maine’s economy. In 2019, tourism generated over $6.2 billion in direct expenditures and supported over 108,000 jobs in the state. With the rise in popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), providing adequate EV charging infrastructure has become an important consideration for continuing to grow this vital sector.

EV drivers have “range anxiety” and need to know they can conveniently charge their vehicles when traveling long distances. A robust fast charging network along major highways and thoroughfares is critical for enabling EV tourism. Studies have shown that EV drivers will plan trips and destinations based on the availability of charging stations.

Several initiatives are underway to expand EV tourism infrastructure in Maine. The state received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to install DC fast chargers along the I-95 corridor from Kittery to Houlton. These will allow EV drivers to travel the state from south to north.

The Mills administration also launched a pilot program in 2019 to provide rebates to Maine tourism businesses that install EV charging stations. This helps offset the upfront costs for lodging facilities, restaurants, shops, and other establishments that cater to travelers. Expanding the number of charging locations encourages EV drivers to visit more areas of the state and spend tourism dollars locally.

With proactive efforts to build out EV charging, Maine can solidify its reputation as an EV-friendly destination. This will become increasingly important as more motorists go electric nationwide in the coming decade. EV tourism represents an opportunity for Maine’s tourism industry to get ahead of the curve and continue driving economic growth.

Government Initiatives

Maine’s government has taken several steps to encourage and support the expansion of EV charging infrastructure across the state. Some key initiatives include:

  • Rebates and incentives – The state offers rebates on the purchase or lease of new EVs through the Drive Electric Maine program. There are also incentives available for installing home and public charging stations. These help lower the upfront costs which can be a barrier to EV adoption.
  • Investments – The Maine Department of Transportation has invested over $1.5 million in recent years into installing public fast charging stations along highway corridors. They plan to continue expanding these efforts to build out a convenient fast charging network.
  • Legislation – In 2019, Maine passed legislation directing the Public Utilities Commission to develop a statewide EV charging plan. This is guiding investments and coordination between utilities, private companies, and the state to strategically build up charging infrastructure.
  • Municipal initiatives – Some towns and cities like Portland and South Portland have passed ordinances and building codes to require EV charging capacity in new construction and developments. This will help ensure charging access keeps pace with rising EV use.
  • Public-private partnerships – The state is collaborating with private companies like Central Maine Power and ChargePoint to install charging stations. Cost sharing and coordination helps maximize coverage and accessibility of charging infrastructure.

The initiatives demonstrate the priority Maine’s leaders have placed on proactively preparing for rising EV adoption. Continued efforts will be important to ensure convenient charging access keeps pace with consumer demand across the state.

Private Sector

The private sector, including utilities and companies, has also been actively involved in expanding EV charging infrastructure in Maine.

Maine’s major utility companies, including Central Maine Power, Emera Maine, and Versant Power, have all implemented programs and initiatives to support EV adoption through charging infrastructure buildouts. For example, Central Maine Power has installed over 60 public charging stations across the state and offers special rates for EV owners charging at home.

Emera Maine has partnered with municipalities, businesses, and other organizations to deploy charging stations, often providing financial support through grants. They have supported the installation of DC fast chargers at key locations to enable longer distance EV travel within Maine.

Private companies have also stepped up. Electrify America has plans to install 32 ultra-fast charging stations along highway corridors in Maine by the end of 2025. Tesla continues to expand its Supercharger network, with 7 locations currently open in Maine focused along the I-95 corridor.

Overall, the private sector sees the opportunities associated with EV growth in Maine and is making key investments to build out a convenient, reliable charging network throughout the state. Their efforts, often in collaboration with the public sector, will be crucial for enabling a successful large-scale transition to EVs.

Future Expansion

Maine is expected to see significant growth in EV charging infrastructure over the next decade. As electric vehicle adoption rises, there will be increased demand for convenient charging options. Both the public and private sectors have plans to expand Maine’s charging networks.

The state government has set a goal of installing at least 50% more public charging stations by 2025. Areas targeted for growth include along major highways, at tourist destinations, and in downtown districts of Maine’s cities. The state is offering grants and incentives to municipalities, businesses and utilities to install more chargers.

Major charging networks like ChargePoint, EVgo, and Tesla are also expanding in Maine. ChargePoint plans to double its charging ports in the state by 2024. EVgo recently announced plans to build more DC fast charging hubs along Interstate 95.

Workplace and multi-unit residential charging are also expected to see growth, providing more options for at-home and destination charging. Utilities like Central Maine Power are making investments in EV infrastructure to meet rising demand.

If charging infrastructure growth keeps pace with EV adoption rates, Maine can expect thousands of new public and private charging ports installed over the next 5-10 years. Strategic partnerships and continued government support will be key to enabling this expansion.

Challenges

Maine faces several key challenges as it looks to increase EV adoption across the state.

Costs

The upfront cost of purchasing an electric vehicle remains higher than comparable gas-powered models. The average cost of a new EV is around $55,000, compared to $45,000 for a standard gasoline car. This price differential poses a significant barrier, especially in rural areas where incomes tend to be lower. Various federal and state incentives help offset the cost, but more will need to be done to achieve price parity.

Education

Consumer awareness and understanding of EVs is still relatively low in Maine. Myths persist around limited range, lack of charging options, and higher maintenance costs. Car dealerships have an important role to play in educating potential buyers on the realities and benefits of EV ownership. More marketing and educational campaigns can help spread accurate information to mainstream audiences.

Charging Availability

While Maine’s charging network has expanded considerably, gaps in coverage remain, particularly in rural and remote areas. This causes range anxiety for drivers and reduces EV appeal. Further investment is required to build out charging infrastructure along major highways, in small towns, and even at individual residences. The state needs to incentivize utilities and private companies to fill in the gaps.

Overcoming these barriers will require a concerted effort by policymakers, businesses, utilities, and EV advocates. But doing so will enable Maine to reap the economic, environmental, and energy independence benefits of widespread electric vehicle adoption.

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