scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Massachusetts needs more EV chargers — wicked badly

“Under any scenario, we do need a lot more,” the state’s energy official says.

A new report estimates that Massachusetts will need 10,000 of the fastest DC charging connections, up from just 651 today, and 35,000 medium-speed ports known as “Level 2,” up from 5,468 today.Justin Sullivan/Getty

Massachusetts will need to dramatically increase the number of public EV charging stations in the state — at a cost in the billions of dollars — if it is to achieve its climate goals of getting nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, according to a new report.

The report by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council, a joint effort of state agencies working on EV issues, estimates Massachusetts will need 10,000 of the fastest DC charging connections, up from just 651 today, and 35,000 public medium-speed ports known as “Level 2,” up from 5,468 today.


Each fast-charging connection, according to the report, would cost from $100,000 to $300,000 to install, bringing the total at the high end to nearly $3 billion. The costs would mostly be borne by private companies, such as utilities, car makers, and others building charging networks.

The lack of charging stations is considered one of the biggest hurdles to EV adoption, even as car manufacturers introduce lower-cost models competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles. But building enough fast-charging stations is a daunting task. It not only will require massive upfront investment, but also upgrades to the electric grid to handle increased demand for power that could range from 700 to 1,400 megawatts — or about 5 to 10 percent of electricity consumed in Massachusetts on a hot summer day, according to the report.

Governments may also have to build or subsidize charging stations in rural and low-income urban areas to ensure access to charging networks, the report said.

“An acceleration of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is required to keep Massachusetts on path to achieving our [Clean Energy and Climate Plans] benchmarks for electric vehicle penetration,” the council said in its report. “This represents a 15-fold growth in public fast charging stations from current installed numbers and a six-fold growth in public Level 2 charging stations by 2030.”


The Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council was created by last year’s state climate law. It includes state agencies that have a part in solving the charging challenge, from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Public Utilities, as well as the MBTA, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and several legislators.

The fast-charger estimate, however, may be too high, according to Loren McDonald, chief executive of research firm EVAdoption. Once people buy EVs, they do most charging at home or work using slower Level 2 chargers, he said. And even on longer trips, the time required for fast charging is shrinking as improving technology refills batteries more quickly, meaning charging ports can handle more EVs.

“Once Massachusetts builds out fast chargers for the highway corridors, you’re not going to need much more” in other parts of the state, McDonald said. “Most people are going to be charging more slowly at home or at work or Whole Foods or a movie theater where their car sits while they’re doing other things.”

In an aerial view, pedestrians walked by an electric vehicle charging station last month in Corte Madera, Calif. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Michael Judge, state undersecretary of energy and chair of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council, said the panel will revise the estimates as the adoption of EVs grows and electrification of the transportation system advances to commercial vehicles such as delivery vans, garbage trucks, and buses.

“Ten thousand may not be the exact right number,” Judge said. “We are going to continue to dig deeper. But under any scenario, we do need a lot more.”


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is already working on two projects to add charging stations along public highways. One that would replace six decommissioned fast chargers at rest stops on the Massachusetts Turnpike has already been put out for bid. The transportation department also is preparing to seek bids this winter for a more comprehensive program to install dozens of chargers among 17 state-owned highway rest stops using funds from the 2021 federal infrastructure law.

The state is in line to receive $55 million to $60 million over five years under the law.

Some states have moved more quickly to spend the federal funds. Hawaii, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Maine have already selected bidders to build charging stations along major highway corridors, and Pennsylvania, Utah, and Kansas will announce contract awards soon, according to data compiled by EVAdoption.

The public sector programs come alongside private sector efforts. In Massachusetts, utilities expect to spend $400 million adding EV charging stations and making related grid upgrades over the next four years.

Nationally, General Motors, Honda, and five other automakers announced plans in July to build a network of 30,000 chargers in North America, with the first stations opening next summer. Walmart is also building its own national EV charging network. And Tesla, which runs a network with more than 22,000 fast-charging connections, has started opening its stations to other car brands and allowing other automakers to use its connector technology.


The public and private efforts are making important progress, according to Anna Vanderspek, EV program director at the Green Energy Consumers Alliance. “There is already some momentum and some resources to work with,” she said. “We know that we need to really ramp up electrification of vehicles and having access to charging is a huge piece.”

An electric vehicle was plugged into a charger in Los Angeles last year.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Aaron Pressman can be reached at Follow him @ampressman.