It’s getting easier and easier to charge your electric car in the Portland area.
There was a time, not too long ago, when electric car drivers would have a slow home charging station and that was about it. They would need to make it to work and back on a single charge, because there really weren’t any other places along the way to refill the battery. And when they got home, they’d need to let it sit plugged in for 12 hours to plus back up for the following morning’s drive.
Evening drives out to concerts or restaurants — at least with the electric rides — were out of the mix for many.
While electric charging stations are still not as ubiquitous as traditional gas stations, there are many more options available now than in the very recent past. Last week, the city of Portland unveiled an electric vehicle charging station in its Elm Street parking garage.
What’s called a Level II charger zaps up electric car batteries to full charges in 4-5 hours, unlike the home-style chargers which plug into standard 110-volt outlets and take 12 hours. There are two chargers in the parking garage — one for the city Inspections Division’s 2014 Nissan Leaf and the other for members of the public.
The Elm Street garage charger is just the latest addition to Greater Portland’s electric car charging options. The South Portland Community Center and Fore Street parking garage in Portland reportedly added DC Quick Charge stations in July, allowing electric vehicles to juice up in about 30 minutes — even faster than the Elm Street plug.
Another new charger was unveiled in May outside the Hyatt Place hotel in Portland, and solar-powered electric vehicle chargers were installed two years ago at ReVision Energy’s 142 Presumscot St. location in Portland and TideSmart Global’s headquarters on Route 1 in Falmouth.
Want to drive a little farther? The Maine Public Utilities Commission claims there are charging stations at Lee Auto dealerships in Auburn and Topsham, Bill Dodge Nissan in Saco and a slower one all the way up at the Acadia Welcome Center in Trenton.
In early 2013, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor added solar electric vehicle chargers as well.
According to my colleague David Harry of The Forecaster, the Nissan Leaf’s battery has a range of about 90 miles and requires at least 30 minutes to recharge, if you’ve found one of those super-fast chargers like the one in South Portland.
The Chevy Volt has a battery range under 40 miles, but also has a combustion engine and can keep going using old-fashioned gasoline if you want to go beyond that distance.
Tesla puts out a line of high-end all-electric cars which have a range estimated at 265 miles, David wrote.