UMaine installs four more Level 2 vehicle charging stations for public use – D. Dixon

The University of Maine installed four new Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations for public use at the Stevens Hall parking lot, increasing its total number of chargers for UMaine community and public use to 35.

Members of the public can charge their electric vehicles at these stations for $1.50 per hour. More information is on the Office of Sustainability website.

With a 208-volt, 40-amp power system, the Level 2 stations can provide enough electricity for 20–30 miles of travel after an hour of charging. This exceeds the output from Level 1 stations, which provide enough electricity for three–five miles of travel after an hour of charging.

Counting the charger in the Advanced Structures and Composites Center parking lot, the campus now offers five Level 2 stations for public use. Additional electric vehicle charging infrastructure on campus includes two Level 2 stations for students who live in the dorms and 28 Level 1 chargers for faculty and staff. Stations for residential students are free and accessible with a MaineCard; faculty and staff buy electric vehicle parking permits to use in their designated spaces.

The UMaine Office of Sustainability spearheaded the $25,000 charger installation project, and financed the four stations with a $16,000 grant from Efficiency Maine, $1,500 from the Professional Employees Advisory Council, and its own funds.

UMaine Sustainability Director Daniel Dixon says the new stations will provide commuters and campus visitors ample opportunity to recharge their vehicles.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, UMaine is the only location in the Town of Orono that offers electric vehicle charging stations for the public, with the closest alternatives located in Bangor. Dixon says the university is one of the largest providers of public charging stations in the Greater Bangor area.

“These new Level 2 charging stations represent a big step towards the future for UMaine’s transportation infrastructure,” says Dixon, also a research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute. “What we are essentially doing with these EV charging stations is promoting electric vehicle ownership.”

Increasing the number of charging stations on campus is one of several sustainability initiatives at UMaine.

As a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now known as the Carbon Commitment, UMaine has pledged to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over time and become carbon neutral by 2040. In particular, the university aims to achieve net-zero Scope 1 emissions by 2030, and net-zero Scope 2 and 3 emissions by 2040.

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from sources that are directly owned or controlled by UMaine, such as natural gas, #6 oil, #2 oil, propane, gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from purchased sources that are not owned or controlled by the university, such as electricity. Scope 3 emissions are from sources not directly owned or controlled by UMaine, but are directly related to university activities, including faculty, staff, and student commuting and department travel.

Scope 3 emissions are the hardest to curb because they are not directly controlled by the university, Dixon says. UMaine hopes to reduce them by encouraging people to make more sustainable choices, such as using electric vehicles. By offering resources like affordable access to EV charging stations, these choices become more realistic, Dixon says.

Other UMaine sustainability efforts pertaining to transportation include offering free parking permits for carpoolers and free bus transportation throughout Orono in the form of the Black Bear Orono Express. The university has also partnered with the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System to offer MaineCard holders free access to all its bus routes, Dixon says.

As more consumers purchase electric vehicles, particularly those with larger batteries, Dixon says he hopes to eventually install Level 3 fast-charging stations, which can provide enough electricity for 50 miles of travel or more in 20 minutes.

“Once we see that our current charging stations are no longer supplying enough for what’s needed, then we’ll install more,” he says.

UMaine is a leader in sustainability research led by the Climate Change Institute, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, Advanced Structures and Composites Center, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute and many other units. More than 25% of faculty from over 75% of departments conduct sustainability-related research.

Other achievements in sustainability include purchasing more than 25% of its food and beverage from local sources nearly three years ahead of schedule, recycling and composting nearly half of its waste, constructing new buildings to LEED Silver certification standards and using on-site-generated compost rather than fertilizers to maintain campus grounds.

In 2021 and 2020, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) ranked UMaine among the top performing higher education institutions worldwide for sustainability, particularly in its grounds category. The university also has Silver Rating in AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program, a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.