In a move hailed as a major step in the state’s climate battle, Massachusetts has approved a $400 million plan to install tens of thousands of electric vehicle chargers as part of an effort to encourage larger numbers of drivers to switch from gas cars to electric.

The order from the state’s Department of Public Utilitiesissued last weekallows electric utilities Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil to put a surcharge on ratepayers’ electricity bills to support the build-out of needed infrastructure. Under the plan, the utilities over the next four years will upgrade and lay wires to support chargers and offer rebates to individuals and businesses looking to install them at homes, apartment buildings, workplaces, and public locations like retail parking lots. The plan reserves money for charging hubs in poor and minority neighborhoods, as well as for marketing the rebates.

Amy Boyd, vice president of climate and clean energy policy for Acadia Center, a clean-energy advocacy group, said she was glad to see the order, but said she would rather “have it be more of a strategic, government-led, undertaking, as opposed to industry-led.” That would allow for the planning process to take into account the bigger climate picture, she said, like whether to co-locate solar or battery storage along with chargers, or to think about upgrading transformers at the same time to facilitate increased energy demands from the electrification of heating.

Read the full article in The Boston Globe here.