Florida set to expand electric vehicle charging thanks to millions in federal funding

ORLANDO, Fla. — Tucked into the bipartisan infrastructure bill is $5 billion over five years for states to enhance electric vehicle charging. For Florida this means almost $200 million with the state poised to receive almost 30 million this year.

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“It’s about making sure we have the backbone of a national network,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview with Eyewitness News. “Some communities you already have quite a few of them (EV charging stations) around. They might be at retail locations, people have them in their homes, but we want to make sure that wherever you’re planning to go whether it’s around town or a long road trip you never have to wonder whether it’s possible to fill up.”

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According to EVAdoption, only California has more electric vehicles than Florida. With an estimated 108,794 electric vehicles in the state, there are, according to the group, about 19.27 electric vehicles for every one charging station in Florida: well above the national median of 14.2 electric vehicles for every charging station.

Part of the federal plan is to not only focus on interstate systems but also multi-family homes where people may not have the option of installing an at-home charger in their garage.

“We need to make sure there’s a very high standard for the use of taxpayer dollars here which means they can’t just go to anybody to put any charger anywhere there’s got to be a high standard,” Buttigieg said. “They have got to be available in in a way that’s going benefit every driver, so we have got to be smart about where they go.”

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States, including Florida, are expected to submit a plan to the USDOT by August 1, 2022 to draw down the money.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are also discussing how or who should be in charge of the system.

Because electricity in Florida is a regulated monopoly as well as a public utility, the state is considering how to ensure companies beyond just utilities can enter the growing market of EV charging.

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“I think we’ve got legitimate concerns out there,” said Rep. Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay). “We need more stations and we want a robust number of companies in the same way there’s not just one place to fill up your car with gas. There should be many options for you to fill up your car with electricity.”

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, whose department in 2019 began working on an EV roadmap for the state to identify the places most in need of EV infrastructure said in a statement, “this investment is great news for Florida. Electric vehicles are crucial for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a sustainable future. I strongly urge the Florida Department of Transportation to adopt the recommendations from our EV Roadmap so we can utilize this funding efficiently and effectively.”

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