This Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 file photo shows a Chevrolet Volt hybrid car charging at a ChargePoint charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles. Credit: Richard Vogel | AP

Maine Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved two pilot projects that would give $500,000 in incentives toward 120 electric vehicle charging stations for consumers throughout the state.

The move follows the Legislature’s enactment last year of LD 1464, “An Act to Support Electrification of Certain Technologies for the Benefit of Maine Consumers and Utility Systems and the Environment.” The act required the commission to get bidders for pilot projects to expand what it calls “beneficial electrification in the transportation sector” in Maine.

Commission Chairman Philip Bartlett said there were four bidders, with two chosen as winners. They were proposals from Central Maine Power and Efficiency Maine Trust.

The proposals are for Level 2 charging stations, which supply 240 volts of power, the same amount that an oven or electric dryer uses. Level 2 chargers are mid-level and are widely seen around the state. They can take several hours to fully charge most electric vehicles.

CMP’s project will be a “make-ready” system in which CMP will get $4,000 to supply the components needed for charging up to the point of each meter, but the customer will install the meter.

Efficiency Maine would offer a rebate.

Bartlett said the studies could help determine if a rebate or make-ready system works best for consumers.

In both cases $4,000 worth of incentives are available, or $240,000 for 60 stations for each project.

Bartlett said the technology used must be neutral so that it is available to any electric vehicle user. And the technology must be networked.

“The approved pilots are a welcome step toward making it easier for Mainers to move toward electric cars and trucks, but they fall short of what was proposed and what is needed,” said Sue Ely, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Unfortunately, the [commission] rejected CMP’s $2 million proposal to support 32 new DC fast-charging ports over the next several years.”

She said those fast-charging Level 3 stations can charge a car up to 80 percent in about 20 minutes.

“Maine needs a comprehensive network of EV charging stations so that drivers build confidence in owning electric cars,” she said. “This decision moves us a step closer to that and also shows that Maine will need complementary policies and sources of funding to capture the benefits of electrification.”