Category Archives: NRCM

Drive Electric Maine- Love It’s What Makes an EV, an EV.



New England, particularly northern New England states like Maine, has been late to the party called “electric vehicles”.  As a native New Englander, I can think of many reasons for this tentativeness. We tend to be cautious, wary of new ideas. Given our economy we aren’t prone to fads.  We just don’t throw money at a product because it enhances our status.  It has to prove itself.   EVs are still considered new.  They cost a bit more, up front.  We can’t determine whether they are a real, or something worth serious interest. The media doesn’t help much in offering objective analysis (probably the case for media anywhere nowadays).  We have concerns over cold-weather impacts on their batteries.  We have concerns about their range.  We just don’t see many of them in the wild so we don’t’ personally know many people who drive them. We wonder how we’re supposed to keep them charged- we don’t see much public charging station infrastructure.  In truth, these are all reasonable concerns.  However, once any new technology proves itself here, we become true believers and it becomes part of our lives.  Think about how the Suburu brand has captured New Englander’s loyalty. Love- it’s what makes a Suburu, a Suburu.

Last week was a watershed moment in Maine’s journey toward transportation electrification. We convened a large group of energized stakeholders from all walks interested in putting more cars on the road.  The group included our largest electric utilities (Central Maine Power, Emera Maine), public health folks (American Lung Association of the Northeast), large employers (Delhaize/Hannaford), Maine Innkeepers Association, Green Campuses, local governments, including Portland and South Portland, and, perhaps most importantly, the Governor’s Energy Office and critical state agencies interested in growing opportunities to electrify Maine’s major travel corridors.  These are folks who drive EVs, who have a specific interest in their benefits, who see the potential for transforming Maine’s economy, environment and communities by weaning us off oil.

We will be focusing on impactful projects that raise visibility and consumer deployment of this technology.   In particular, we want to grow workplace charging, create charging opportunities for tourists and commercial businesses, and assist utilities in pilot projects and outreach.  By keeping the emphasis on projects, not policy, we want to thread the political needle and leverage private investment as much as we can to show this technology can stand on its feet and meet the needs of consumers while helping our communities breathe cleaner air, save money, and keep Maine’s environmental beautiful for future generations.  While these are lofty aspirations, Maine has great people who care about each other and our natural beauty- these are really our best assets.

Here is our current list of stakeholders:

Acadia Center

American Lung Association of the Northeast

Avangrid Foundation

Central Maine Power

City of Portland

City of South Portland


Conservation Law Foundation


Electric Mobility NE

Emera Maine

Governor’s Energy Office

Greater Portland Council of GOvernments

Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau

Green Campuses

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

Maine Auto Dealers Association

Maine Clean Communtiies

Maine Department of Environmental Protection

Maine Department of Transportation

Maine Innkeepers Association

Maine Turnpike Authority

Natural Resources Council of MAine

ReVision Energy

Sierra Club

Sunrun, Inc.

University of Maine

What will be our definition of success? Getting 10,000 cars with plugs on our roads by 2020? Electrifying our I-95 corridor with DC Fast Chargers for our local communities and visiting tourists ?  Creating a dynamic public charging space in our major cities?  Focusing on helping our large employer workplaces get chargers?

Or perhaps our success will be achieved when we re-define what our love of transportation means.  Love, what makes an EV, an EV.  No smoke, no gas, no irreversible climate change.  Does your Suburu do that? Then maybe you should ask them what love really means.

From Sea to Shining Sea- At the Speed of a Good Idea

cadillac-mountain-sunrise-chad-tracyIf the Earth spun according to the laws of social change, and electric vehicle deployment, dawn would rise in the West and set in the East. With California creating its own Federally sanctioned zero-emission vehicle program and drafting some of the most forward leaning PEV policies in the U.S., it now accounts for the sale of one out of every three vehicle sales. In 2013, Washington State became home to more Tesla S sales per capita than even California, and the highest percentage of domestic PEV sales (1.6%).  Not to be out done in 2013, Hawai’i bumped California to third, tying Washington’s sales percentage.  Oregon consistently has the most public charging stations of any state and is in the top five domestic sales markets.  Collectively, California, Oregon and Washington have electrified their respective sections of Interstate Five– the West Coast Green Highway.  It’s easy to see why, then, when I leave my neighborhood in a suburb north of Portland, I usually stop counting Nissan LEAFs and feel twinges of pride at how far in the past four years our region has pushed this technology to the forefront of our neighbor’s consciousnesses.

And now, the West casts its dawn light far to the East, illuminating for others the virtues of this amazing technology, the plug-in electric vehicle.

In September, Massachusetts convened the first meeting of the Massachusetts EV Initiative Task Force (“MEVI”), in Boston, comprised of utilities, auto manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota, charging station providers, local governments, NGO’s like the Sierra Club, Plug In America, and Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast and critical state agencies.  Working to make the Bay State a fast follower, MEVI’s work groups have drafted recommendations for three critical areas of public policy- Outreach, Infrastructure and Incentives.  At the same time, the Mass Department of Public Utilities has opened an EV Docket designed to address a litany of familiar consumer and electric utility issues associated with charging- such as whether public charging station providers should be regulated like utilities, will utilities be allowed to play in the infrastructure field, will EV charging be required to have separate meters- issues which western states have resolved with mixed success.  Indeed, as proof of its appetite to lead New England’s efforts to electrify, Massachusetts celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its first DCQC– February 18th at the UMass-Amherst campus and announced a state-based $2500 point of sale rebate for PEVs.

Even in Maine, (at Cadillac Mountain) where dawn officially first arrives each day in the United States, charging stations are springing up.   A coalition of diverse stakeholders, including Plug In America, the American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Nissan USA and the state’s largest utility, Central Maine Power, has embarked on an EV Pilot with grant funding to install infrastructure and provide vehicles to qualifying local communities, organization and businesses. The “other” Portland’s DCQC will be installed downtown at the Fore Street Garage in April, soon to be followed by the City of South Portland’s placement of a Nissan DCQC at its Community Center. At the same time, matching grants are being provided to Greater Portland businesses and local governments to help purchase vehicles and hasten public awareness of the viability of PEVs.  Workplace charging is scheduled at IDEXX, one of the area’s largest employers.

Traditionally dependent on oil for heating and transportation, New England is poised to learn from the lessons to the West.  And now we can truly say the EV’s cast a light from sea to shining sea.