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Updated: February 4, 2021

Maine gets mixed marks for electric vehicles in new study

Martin Grohman with his electric car, a Tesla, and Nordic skis. Courtesy / Martin Grohman Martin Grohman, executive director of E2Tech, is an electric car enthusiast who drives a Model S Tesla with a trailer hitch. He is shown here at Harris Farm in Dayton heading out to do some Nordic skiing.

When it comes to conditions for electric vehicles, Maine drew mixed reviews in a national scorecard released on Wednesday.

The State Transportation Electrification Scorecard, published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, found that while many states including Maine have taken promising steps to electrify transportation, there is considerable room for improvement.

"Ultimately, a full shift to affordable and accessible electrified vehicles — powered entirely by zero-charge energy — will be necessary to bring emissions to zero and support livable communities," according to the study.

California, the only state to set deadlines for electrifying transit buses, heavy trucks and commercial vehicles, earned the highest marks for enabling the use of electric vehicles, followed by New York; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Massachusetts; Vermont; Colorado; Oregon; and New Jersey.

Maine came in at No. 17, tied with Pennsylvania. Maine earned 34 out of 100 possible points and got mixed reviews from researchers.

"We found that Maine has taken a number of important steps to encourage and enable residents to use electric vehicles, but should rapidly step up its efforts — which could in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, decrease air pollution and cut fueling and maintenance costs for individuals and businesses," lead report author Bryan Howard said in a statement emailed to Mainebiz.

The state earned points for adopting California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Program, which requires manufacturers of passenger vehicles to offer a certain number of zero-emission vehicles, and for efforts to decarbonize its electric grid, which helps in the effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

But he also said that Maine missed points due to a number of factors. They include absence of a comprehensive state plan to guide electric vehicle and charging deployment and the lack of purchase incentives for electric commercial vehicles like buses or delivery trucks.

Both are areas "where the legislature and executive branch could set new policies," Howard said.

'Like having a website in 2001'

Proponents of clean energy and electrifying Maine's transportation sector include Martin Grohman, executive director of the Biddeford-based Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine, and an electric car owner himself.

"I think there is an immense business opportunity in the EV transition," he told Mainebiz. "The fact is that EV's are a blast to drive and cheaper to run, and EV drivers want to go places — and only places — that have chargers. For a business, this is like having a website in 2001. If you're one of the first ones in, you'll have a big advantage." 

He also noted that the list omitted the fact that Quebec, Maine's neighbor to the north, has the second-highest electric-vehicle adoption in North America after California.

"If I had a store in Old Orchard Beach," he said of the summer resort popular with Canadians, "I would sure as heck be putting in a row of chargers."

As for his experience, Grohman drives a 2016 Model S Tesla with a trailer hitch he says can go 240 miles when fully charged and under ideal conditions.

"As a practical matter in a Maine winter, it’s good for about 150, but I wouldn’t head out for that without knowing there were chargers available on the way," he said.

Fortunat Mueller, co-founder of Revision Energy, also said he thinks Maine is doing better when it comes to electrification than reflected in the report.

"Though there is more we should do," he said, "I think Maine is doing fairly well on promoting electrification of light-duty vehicles. Where the state needs more policy support is around medium/heavy duty and fleets. The buses we buy today will still be running in 2035 and need to be electric."

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