Grant helps pay for charging stations, hybrid vehicles (copy)

Electric vehicle charging stations at pictured at Salem High School. The Baker administration is funneling more funds to cities and towns, including Salem, Beverly, Peabody, Danvers, Hamilton and Ipswich, to install more charging stations for electric vehicles.

BOSTON — The Baker administration is expanding the number of charging stations for electric vehicles as part of a broader push to reduce tailpipe emissions.

A new grant program is providing more than $13 million in funding to local governments and private businesses to install charging stations in parking lots.

The plans call for installing 306 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging ports at 150 locations across the state, including locations in Salem, Ipswich, Methuen, Peabody, Hamilton, Danvers and Beverly.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the new grant program “is a step toward the increased deployment of these clean vehicles, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and public health, enhance energy diversity and promote economic growth.”

The program, which is administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection, provides grants covering 100% of the costs to acquire properties and install electric vehicle charging stations at government-owned properties and 80% at other locations, or up to $50,000 per charging port, according to the agency.

Under the program, the parking spaces and charging stations must be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At each station, one parking space must be designated for plug-in EV use only and clearly marked with signage. Enforcement of parking violations is required, Baker officials said.

A majority of the funds for the first round of grants through the new program, or $11.6 million, comes from the Massachusetts Climate Mitigation Trust.

Another $1.5 million comes from the state’s share of a $2.9 billion settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Department of Justice over the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. The settlement requires Massachusetts to devote 15% of it’s $75 million share of the money toward EV charging infrastructure.

The state is required to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% of 1990s levels by 2020, and 80% by 2050, to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act, a federal law the state adopted years ago. A 2016 ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court mandated stepped-up efforts to hit those benchmarks.

Roughly 40% of the state’s carbon emissions come from transportation — trucks and personal vehicles, according to the Department of Transportation.

A climate change law signed by Baker last year requires utilities to submit plans to expand electric vehicle infrastructure. Both National Grid and Eversource, two of the state’s largest electric utilities, have pitched plans to comply with the new requirements by supplying electric vehicles with more options for charging up.

National Grid is seeking approval from state regulators for a $278 million plan to install charging stations, facilitate electric fleets and other large vehicles, and set commercial rates for charging.

Eversource has proposed a $190 million plan to build the “electric backbone” for the state’s electric vehicles. It would also facilitate more charging stations and establish new commercial charging rates.

Both utilities will likely pass the costs to consumers.

Currently 18,000 electric vehicles drive on Massachusetts roads, according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The state hopes that number swells to 300,000 within the next four years.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at

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