(The Center Square) – Maine is among dozens of states now eligible to share a portion of $900 million in new federal funding to expand electric vehicle charging stations.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it has approved Maine's plan to get nearly 219,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 while installing fast charging stations every 30-to-50 miles along major highways.
Maine joins 34 other states – including New Hampshire and Massachusetts – that will share the tranche of federal funds to install EV chargers at regular intervals along their highways.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the plans an "important step to build a nationwide electric vehicle charging network where finding a charge is as easy as locating a gas station."
Money for the program comes from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure and jobs law, which includes more than $15 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure.
A fact sheet provided by DOT shows that Maine is slated to get more than $19.2 million for electric vehicle infrastructure projects under the new law, averaging more than 4 million a year over the next four years. The state received more than $2.8 million in the current fiscal year through the program, according to the federal agency.
Maine's climate change plans call for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030. Tailpipe pollution accounts for more than half of the state's emissions.
A law signed by Gov. Janet Mills in 2021 calls for accelerating Maine's transition to electric vehicles by encouraging the installation of more electric charging stations and reducing the costs that consumers pay for charging vehicles. It requires the state Public Utilities Commission to work with utilities to develop a range of rates for electric charging.
Currently, electric vehicles account for only about 1% of the registered cars and trucks on the state's roads, according to the Maine Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Mills recently signed an executive order calling for a "clean transportation roadmap" to achieve the state’s climate plan goal to put another 200,000 EVs on the road within the next decade.
The plans will include expanding charging infrastructure, evaluating the impact on electric utilities and the grid, and ensuring an equitable and affordable transition to clean transportation
President Joe Biden has also pledged to replace the federal government’s 650,000 vehicle motor fleet with EVs. Currently, federal agencies only have about 3,000 EVs in their motor pools.
Nationwide, cars and light trucks account for about 60% of vehicle emissions that scientists say are contributing to climate change, according to the White House.