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FPL pitches electrical vehicle charging pilot program

The plan would increase charging capacity along highways.

Pointing to “range anxiety” as an obstacle to motorists driving electric vehicles, Florida Power & Light is asking regulators to approve a proposal that could lead to more vehicle-charging stations in the state.

The proposal, filed Friday at the Florida Public Service Commission, would create a pilot program that includes the possibility of FPL operating vehicle-charging stations or partnering with businesses or governments in operating the facilities. The proposal involves what the utility describes as “fast charge” stations that allow motorists to charge electric vehicles more quickly than, for example, they can charge vehicles at home.

While the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to continue to increase, FPL pointed in the proposal to issues that need to be addressed, including costs at charging stations and motorist concerns about not having enough stations.

“Widespread growth in EV (electric vehicle) ownership is dependent on a number of factors, including the cost of purchasing an EV, the variety of vehicles available, consumer habits and mindset,” the proposal said. “However, perhaps the most cited barrier to adoption is the issue of ‘range anxiety,’ or the perceived risk that the vehicle will have insufficient battery charge to reach its destination. This fear is closely related to the lack of available public charging infrastructure.”

The five-year pilot program, which would take effect Jan. 1, deals primarily with cost-related issues. FPL needs the Public Service Commission to approve what are known in the utility industry as “tariffs,” which generally involve pricing structures. The program would be used in the areas served by FPL.

Part of the proposal would set a price of 30 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity sold to motorists at charging stations that would be operated by FPL. The proposal said that in its current rate structure, FPL does not have a “mechanism for collecting revenue directly from users of FPL-owned public charging stations.”

The other part of the proposal would address an issue in commercial electric rates that FPL said makes it hard economically for other parties to operate charging stations that have relatively low levels of use. The proposal would be aimed at helping hold down electric costs at such low-use stations.

“Fast charge providers and potential public charging site hosts have expressed concerns over the inability to recover costs in the early years of EV market adoption,” the proposal said. “This results in challenges and potential delays in the deployment of essential charging infrastructure in anticipation of mass EV adoption.”

Companies such as Tesla operate charging stations in Florida, but lawmakers this year approved a bill that calls for the Public Service Commission, the state Department of Transportation and the state Office of Energy to develop a plan for electric-vehicle charging station “infrastructure” along state highways. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill (SB 7018) on June 10.

The bill said, in part, that increased use of electric vehicles could help in addressing climate change. It gave a series of responsibilities to the Public Service Commission, including considering “strategies to develop this supply of charging stations, including, but not limited to, methods of building partnerships with local governments, other state and federal entities, electric utilities, the business community, and the public in support of electric vehicle charging stations.”

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Republished with permission from the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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