Molly Siegal (right) of Efficiency Maine explains the priority corridors for the level three electric vehicle direct current chargers during her presentation at the Sargent Community Center. Credit: Paul Bagnall / The Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Efficiency Maine has plans to install more direct current fast-charging stations for electric vehicles in Aroostook County, according to the organization’s program manager who spoke to a group of business people in Presque Isle Thursday.

The 480-volt or 50-350 kilowatt fast-charging stations will charge an electric vehicle in 20 to 30 minutes, rather than the two hours it takes stations currently in the area. The new stations — including five in high-traffic areas — will be installed along U.S. routes 1, 11 and 9, said Molly Siegel of Efficiency Maine.

Efficiency Maine is extending its electric vehicle fast charging network along the most traveled routes to the northern, central and eastern borders of Maine. The County installations will be part of the program’s phase three expansion to include 14 new stations by the end of May 2023 in central and eastern Maine. The charging station currently in Presque Isle at the Riverside Pavilion and at some other locations around Aroostook have level-two chargers that take two hours or more to charge.

“In order to meet the demand that is called for in [the state’s] Climate Action Plan, we’ll need about 1,400 to 1,900 new level-two charging plugs in Maine to meet demand and 150 to 300 fast-charging plugs that were estimated,” Siegal said.

The group has already installed 39 charging stations around the state in the first two phases of the project, and has eight more to be completed as part of the second phase.

Efficiency Maine will award contracts in 2023 for an unspecified number of new stations that will be installed by February 2024 for phase four.

The latest part of the project will be paid for with a $3.8 million grant from American Rescue Plan funds funneled through the Maine Department of Transportation.

Five out of the eight eligible segments for the fast charging stations in Aroostook County are within three miles of the intersection of routes 11 and 1 in Fort Kent, on U.S. Route 1 between Madawaska and Van Buren, on U.S. Route 1 within three miles of the intersection with State Street in Presque Isle, and within three miles of the intersection of routes 11 and 227 in Ashland. Washington County is proposed to have four fast charging stations.

Siegel said the fast chargers will be installed by specialized commercial electric companies.