ORLANDO, Fla. — There are more than 58,000 Floridians driving electric vehicles, a number that puts the state second in the US behind only California.
As batteries have become more efficient and the price of vehicles have fallen more, and more Floridians are ditching the pump for the plug.
The trend presents obvious benefits for the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions, a stated goal of Governor Ron DeSantis in his State of the State speech.
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But while stewardship of the environment is a focus for the state, the growing number of EVs on the road is not without its problems, problems that will only increase as more drivers make the switch.
“We remember to plug in our phone every night, so I just have to remember to plug in my car every night,” says Lake County resident and electric vehicle owner Justin Allender. “It’s just another technology device that we have to plan for.”
In just eight months, Justin has already put in more than 20,000 miles on his electric Volkswagen SUV.
“It’s easy to take a road trip in with a little bit of planning,” says Justin.
Planning, for drivers like Justin, means mapping out where to stop for a charge and knowing how long that charge will take.
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Since his SUV can go about 260 miles on a full charge, Justin has to stop about every four hours and pay for electricity.
While Justin plans road trips with his family, the state is planning for more drivers like Justin.
Right now, the Florida Senate is considering a SB 902 bill that would establish a plan for how to address Florida’s growing electric car market.
Unlike gas vehicles which fuel up at privately owned gas stations, the electric grid that EV drivers use is owned by a combination of public utilities that are governed by an appointed state board using a transmission and generation infrastructure that all electricity users pay for, not just EV drivers.
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“This is one of the biggest things that we’re looking at, especially in this rollout it’s actually charging infrastructure and the amount of infrastructure that’s being rolled out,” said Clermont Councilman Ebo Entsuah, who is also a policy principal with Advanced Energy Economy. “Florida is second in terms of sales of electric vehicles on the road but at the same time do we have enough charging infrastructure in place to kind of match that?”
There is also the question of road maintenance. Traditionally roads are paid for through state, federal, and county gas taxes. However, electric vehicles do not require gas, so electric-vehicle drivers do not pay the gas tax.
Right now, Florida is projecting an 11% drop in fuel taxes by 2040, with some estimates suggesting the drop could be a large as 20% by 2040.
While some states like Georgia and Alabama apply a surcharge on electric vehicles to compensate, Florida does not, although this could change as more drivers switch to electric vehicles.
Read more on FDOT’s plan for EV infrastructure here.
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