Western Maine has seen a burgeoning electric vehicle scene over the last seven years, with hundreds on the road and a growing EV charging network to serve the community. The annual National Drive Electric Week Solar & EV Expo hosted by the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy has played a big role in this transition, giving potential EV owners the opportunity to test drive a range of cars and learn directly from the people that drive them. This year’s Expo will continue building excitement and educating locals through viewing, riding in, and test driving electric vehicles, riding eBikes, and attending workshops.

Past Expos have included as many as 40 locally owned electric vehicles and e-bikes and hundreds of test drives and rides.

The free event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, in the parking lot of the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, at 256 Main St. in South Paris, as part of National Drive Electric Week. It will include four interactive workshops: Electric Vehicle 101, Solar 101, the Future of EVs in Maine with Efficiency Maine Trust and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Community Solar Options. Introductory information on owning and operating an electric vehicle and on switching to solar power will be presented, as well as an update on CEBE’s Community Solar project and information about statewide efforts to support the transition to electric vehicles.

To protect the health of our community members, attendees are required to wear a mask and distance from those not in their family, regardless of vaccination status. In order to test-drive vehicles, individuals will also be required to be vaccinated.

“Maine has an ambitious goal of putting 219,000 EVs on the roads in Maine by 2030 and educational opportunities such as this one are critical to reaching these goals. We know that getting drivers behind the wheel of an EV is one of the best ways to encourage people to choose an EV as their next car. Efficiency Maine is glad to see CEBE and other community groups keeping the momentum behind EVs by providing hands-on experiences with these vehicles,” said Molly Siegel, Program Manager for EV Initiatives at Efficiency Maine Trust, according to a news release.

There are now more than 1.5 million EVs on the road in the United States, and a recent survey by Consumer Reports and the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that more than 60% of prospective car buyers in the U.S. are interested in electric vehicles. There are now more than 40 models available in the U.S., with many of the newer models having a range of 200-300 miles or more.

“Paris Autobarn has been a proud sponsor of the EV Expo for the last five years. Events like the Expo provide a wonderful opportunity for people to get a first-hand experience driving or riding in an electric car. Because of the EV Expo, Paris Autobarn has been able to put more EVs on the road and in the driveways of individuals who may have never even thought about owning an electric car,” said Tony Giambro of Paris Autobarn.

National Drive Electric Week is presented by national organizers Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, the Sierra Club, and EVHybridNoire. Nissan LEAF® is the exclusive automotive sponsor of NDEW 2021 and Wells Fargo is the exclusive banking sponsor of NDEW 2021. ClipperCreek and Electrify America are silver-level sponsors. Edison International and Enel X are bronze-level sponsors. IBEW 11 is a green-level sponsor.

Additionally, Paris Autobarn, Efficiency Maine Trust, Lee Auto Malls, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Council of Maine, ReVision Energy, and Garbo-Kane are local sponsors of the event. CEBE has also installed 15 EV chargers in the area to help encourage EV adoption as everyday transportation. As in years past, this year’s event will include information on electric cars and eBikes, Maine’s current solar policy, how to get involved in CEBE’s Community Solar project, and the opportunity to interact with actual EV drivers and solar owners. Founded in 2013, the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy works to engage the community in addressing the climate emergency. They organize, educate, take direct action, and implement practical, ecological solutions for a just transition to a thriving, regenerative economy.

For more information, visit ecologybasedeconomy.org.

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