By Peter McGuire, staff writer
Portland Press Herald news story
High-speed electric vehicle charging stations have opened at five Hannaford supermarkets in Maine, following a model that has been used in other parts of the country to expand the network of charging stations and the use of electric vehicles.
The fast chargers can significantly power up an electric car in 20 minutes, compared with the hours it takes at home or at less powerful public chargers. Siting charge kiosks at Hannaford gives customers the option to recharge their cars while they buy groceries, said Barry Woods, director of Electric Mobility NE, an electric vehicle advocacy group, at an event Friday to open the chargers.
“You should see Hannaford as your new corner gas station,” Woods said. “This metal box will help us all charge into the future.”
The stations were installed in a partnership among Hannaford, EVgo, which installs and owns the stations, and Nissan. The automaker produces the Leaf electric vehicle and has been promoting sales by offering two years of free, fast charging to new Leaf owners.
The chargers are at the Hannaford stores in Portland on Forest Avenue, South Portland at the Maine Mall, Topsham, York and Augusta. Hannaford’s corporate headquarters in Scarborough and its store in Camden also have chargers.
The stations are part of an effort to establish faster, more powerful charging stations across the country to serve consumers with electric vehicles, and to encourage others to consider buying the environmentally friendly vehicles. Supermarket locations have been springing up in places like Texas, where Whole Foods established a charging station in Austin in 2010. Kroger, one of the nation’s biggest grocery chains, has about 300 charging stations sprinkled throughout locations in California, Oregon, Arizona, Texas and Washington.
At the Hannaford locations, customers can pay for their vehicle’s electricity with a credit card or a monthly EVgo subscription. The stations use both SAE connectors, used by most American and European car models, and CHAdeMO plugs, used by Asian brands. Tesla vehicles will be able to charge at the station using an adapter. Pricing for a charge varies depending on whether someone is a pay-as-you-go customer or has a subscription plan.
As of November 2015, there were about 142 of the most popular electric vehicles – the Leaf, Tesla Model S and BMW i-series – registered in Maine, mostly in the southern part of the state.
A full charge will power a new Leaf about 107 miles, while a Chevy Spark will go about 82 miles and the BMW EV will go about 114 miles.
Sen. Angus King, speaking at the event Friday, said electric transportation powered by renewable energy is essential to cut greenhouse gas emissions and curb the effect of climate change.
“The point is, we have to do something about this,” King said. “This is the pathway from the new energy future to the consumer.”
Hannaford’s kiosks add to a growing number of fast charging stations in Maine and the U.S., and support the slowly increasing market for electric vehicles. Tesla installed a supercharging station in Augusta last year and there are dozens of lower-powered private charging stations across the state.
The high-speed chargers could form the backbone for planned electric vehicle corridors linking Maine and Quebec, Woods said. Making fast chargers available like gas stations could also overcome the “range anxiety” that prevents people from buying electric vehicles because they worry they won’t travel as far as they want. Those worries are mostly a perception issue, Woods said, adding that as electric vehicle technology gets better, ranges and battery life will be extended significantly.
“The fast chargers show vehicles can be charged much more quickly and maintain a functionality and distance that is a lot more what the average American is used to,” Woods said.
“It gets people to think and talk about it, and while they are doing that, the vehicles are rapidly improving.”