Representatives from Central Maine Power Company (CMP), a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, and several partner organizations gathered in Portland to celebrate the first awards in the utility’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Grant Program. The program is designed to encourage the use of plug-in hybrid and electric cars in Maine, while gathering data about their use.

(Read more here about CMP's own electric initiatives within the utility's fleet.)

“We are pleased to offer our first grants to organizations that share CMP’s interest in electric vehicles and strong commitment to the environment,” said CMP President and CEO Sara Burns. “We hope our partnerships with these grant recipients will help us to raise public awareness about electric car technology and promote its more widespread use.”

The Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) was the first organization to receive a grant. Director of Transportation and Energy Planning Steven Linnell noted that the CMP program fits perfectly with GPCOG’s Maine Clean Communities mission to promote greater use of alternative fuels.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to demonstrate electric vehicle and charging technology to our member municipalities, and the region as a whole,” said Linnell. “Clean fuel vehicles help the economy by spurring development of new technologies and products and by expanding clean fuel infrastructure.”

GPCOG has been lending its Nissan Leaf to its members for one-week trials. On Wednesday, the keys were handed to Portland Mayor Michael Brennan in front of City Hall.

Other grant recipients include the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech), the Maine Energy Education Program, and the Chewonki Foundation. Each has received grants ranging from $11,000 to $15,000 from CMP to pay for a PEV lease or purchase. They will report on vehicle use and performance while helping to increase visibility and awareness.

Environmental and economic benefits

CMP is running the program in collaboration with several organizations, including Environment Northeast (ENE), the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). Representatives of partner organizations pointed out that the benefits of electric vehicles extend from the environment to the owners’ wallets.

“Electric vehicles are a fantastic way for Mainers to reduce how much they spend on gas,” said CLF’s Malcolm Burson. “With a wide variety of models available, they’re affordable to drive, and they pollute far less than conventional gasoline-powered cars.”

It costs just four cents a mile to drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf, versus over 12 cents per mile for an average gas powered sedan, according to ENE Staff Attorney Mark LeBel. 

"Greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles are up to 60 percent lower than those from conventional vehicles," he said. "That's why we're excited to be part of CMP's program to demonstrate the promise of electric vehicles to more Mainers."

Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the NRCM, pointed out that hybrid and electric vehicles have scored big gains in popularity over the past decade.

“Ten years ago almost nobody had heard of a hybrid car—now they are everywhere and completely mainstream,” said Dylan Voorhees,. “We’re looking forward to the same trajectory for plug-in electric vehicles, which go even further to cut gasoline costs, oil consumption, and air pollution.”

Next phase to focus on Greater Portland

CMP and its program partners are working on a second program to create public-private partnerships to get more PEVs on the road and to promote the installation of charging stations in Greater Portland.

Organizations that wish to apply for a grant, or anyone seeking additional information on the program, can go to the CMP PEV Grant program web site at www.cmpco.com/electricvehicles.

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