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With New Charging Stations, Western Maine’s Foothills Become an EV-Friendly Community
Center for an Ecology-Based Economy (CEBE)
The Center for an Ecology-Based Economy (CEBE) recently added four new electric vehicle charging stations, adding eight new plugs to their Western Maine EV charging network. This latest addition makes a total of 26 public plugs that the climate justice nonprofit has installed over the last eight years. The new ChargePoint Level 2, dual-plug chargers are located at Buck’s Ledge Community Forest in Woodstock, the Paris River Park in South Paris, the Water Street trailhead for the Farm-to-Town trail to Roberts Farm in Norway, and at the Whitman Street parking lot behind the Fare Share Co-op in Norway. Also, the plugs at the Paris Police Station in South Paris and the Deering Street lot in Norway have been upgraded to dual-plug ChargePoint chargers. Exact locations of the charging stations can be found on PlugShare.com.
Funding from Efficiency Maine Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and an anonymous foundation helped make these upgrades possible. “Electric vehicles are in the future for many residents. Any way we can help with that here in Paris without putting the burden on the taxpayer is a good thing,” said Dawn Noyes, Paris Town Manager. “Thank you to CEBE for helping Paris with grants to install two charging stations here in town.”
With these recent additions to our Western Maine EV Charging Network, CEBE declares that the western foothills region of Maine is an EV-friendly community. Norway, Maine has a current total of 13 plugs with a population of 4,962 residents (2020). Neighboring Paris has a total of 10 plugs with a population of 5,187 residents (2020). That means there are roughly 382 residents per plug in Norway and 518 residents per plug in Paris. The density of EV chargers in the western foothills region of Maine is now higher than figures reported by GreenCars.com where they state that “five of the top 10 EV-friendly cities are located in California. San Francisco-Oakland was far and away the leader, with only 465 residents per charger, followed by San Diego in second place (824 residents per charger) and Los Angeles in third (852). Fresno (5th place, 1,024) and Sacramento (7th place, 1,111) also ranked.”
“Having three networked dual-plug charging stations within a short walk of Norway’s historic Main Street business district is an economic driver for the area,” said Scott Berk, President of Norway Downtown. “We often see out-of-state cars charging downtown, which can only be good for the tourist economy.” Norway’s Water Street chargers also provide an opportunity to charge while hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing at Roberts Farm Preserve using the new Farm to Town trail. The Bucks Ledge chargers provide an opportunity to charge while hiking at Bucks Ledge Community Forest off of Route 26 in Woodstock, while charging stations at the Gem Theater and Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel invite EV drivers to cultural, dining and recreational opportunities in the mountain town. While Bethel’s chargers, as well as some of the other more rural chargers in the region are not networked, CEBE encourages drivers to contribute through a QR code. “We are glad to support an electric car charging station in Woodstock,” said Vern Maxfield, Woodstock Town Manager. “With the growing use of EVs, we saw an opportunity to provide charging in an area without easy access. That we were able to place it where users could be refreshed with a hike in the Community Forest while their vehicle’s batteries are restored at the same time is a bonus.”
“There is a common misconception among some area residents that they can’t buy an EV because they don’t see enough EV chargers in our community,” said Tony Giambro, CEBE’s Municipal Resilience Coordinator. “Although it’s true that we still need more public chargers, this visibility issue is actually a hidden benefit of electric vehicles because of how well EV chargers blend into our community compared to gas stations. We hope that our recent EV charging network expansion will help improve the visibility of chargers and encourage EV adoption. However, the U.S. Department of Energy reminds us that 80% of EV charging is done at home due to the convenience and relatively low cost.”
To date, CEBE has installed Level 2 charging stations in the towns of Norway, Paris, Buckfield, Hebron, Woodstock, Bethel, Oxford, Poland, Denmark, and Fryeburg. Because of the solar farm that was recently installed in Norway, and the solar panels that were previously installed on the Deering Street kiosk, all of the Norway EV chargers are being powered by the sun. Additionally, the three plugs at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris are powered by an on-site solar tracker, and the Paris Police Station will soon be powered by a rooftop array, thanks to a Community Action Grant that Paris received with CEBE’s technical assistance.
The new ChargePoint chargers in Norway, Paris, and Woodstock charge a fee for charging, which is slightly more than the cost of the electricity provided to help CEBE cover costs and raise additional funds for future EV charging projects as CEBE’s network grows to meet demand. CEBE requests that EV drivers don’t abuse the remaining “free to use” chargers in the area as those are intended for people who need to charge while visiting or working in the area, not as a replacement for installing a home charger or paying for daily usage to support reliable public charging in the community. “As EVs become more prevalent, it is critical that we develop the infrastructure to support them,” said Brad Plante, Norway’s interim Town Manager. “This project is a great example of providing a service to the public along with a small amount of revenue for CEBE, a local non-profit working to increase the number of chargers in our community.”
Federal tax credits are currently available for electric vehicle charging equipment for both residential and commercial use, as well as for qualifying electric vehicles. Efficiency Maine also offers a variety of rebates for EVs and EV charging equipment.
Find more information about CEBE at ecologybasedeconomy.org.
Deering Street has a ChargePoint EV charger with dual plugs. It is powered by the via solar panels installed on the kiosk. (Courtesy photo)