Easton Utilities and the town of Easton unveiled four new electric vehicle charging stations downtown on Monday, Nov. 2.

The stations are located in a town-owned parking lot on Brewers Lane near the Talbot Town Shopping Center.

The project cost $25,000 and includes two charging stations donated by Tesla Inc. All four stations will be free-of-charge for their initial launch.

Easton Utilities, the town and Mayor Robert Willey should all be commended for this effort.

These are the first electric vehicle charging stations in the town of Easton. Their community and economic impacts should not be underestimated.

We need to see more of these kinds of efforts around Talbot County and the entire Eastern Shore.

They will have significant benefits for economic development and tourism. At a root level, the charging stations send a message to residents and visitors that Easton is forward thinking. These projects will also be essential to the Shore’s economic competitiveness.

The electric and hybrid car market — whether it’s Tesla or other brands — continues to grow. The segment will account for 3% of car sales in 2020. That number is expected to grow to 10% globally by 2025, 28% by 2030 and 58% in 2040, according to a report by BloombergNEF.

We need to make certain the Shore is not left behind as the auto industry and transportation change. We have seen the unfortunate results of the digital divide on rural communities and small towns on the Shore.

Digital divide issues are not just about spotty internet service. They are magnified by the coronavirus with too many students lacking internet access.

We need to think of electric vehicles and renewable energy in the same vein.

The virus has created plenty of problems. It also presents new opportunities, new ways of working, learning and living. Many workers and entrepreneurs can work at home. They won’t have to fight D.C. or Baltimore traffic or navigate the high costs and quality of life stresses of big metro areas.

Those stresses have been quite obvious in 2020.

The results will be more people looking at quieter, more peaceful, healthier and less expensive lives. We know the Shore — and especially places such as Talbot County — fits squarely into those potential moves and relocations.

But we have to make sure we are offering those workers, small business owners and others the amenities, technology and quality of life they desire.

That means broadband internet access as well as things such as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

EV charging stations are increasingly commonplace at apartment complexes, workplaces and office parks. They are increasingly expected in D.C., Philadelphia and other cities. They will be expected here.

Easton Utilities officials also talked about how the EV stations can immediately help the local economy, which has been challenged by the coronavirus and its shutdowns.

Those living and or visiting can patronize local restaurants, shops or other attractions in the downtown area while their vehicles are charging.

We need more of these types of ideas to help our local economy — we need them now.

Four charging stations in a parking lot might not seem like the biggest of deals on first glance. But it sends a positive message about the town — and sets the example for similar efforts across the Shore — that will be key to long-term economic development and tourism.

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