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Florida investing $8.5M toward electric vehicle charging stations

Over the next 60 days, 74 charging stations could go online.

With funds from the Volkswagen settlement, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida is committing $8.5 million in contracts to improving the state’s electric vehicle charging grid

Florida has received $166 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act. Of those funds to benefit air quality improvements, the state can spend 15%, or about $25 million, on electric vehicle charging stations.

DeSantis said the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the disbursement, but touted the latest environmental protection update Friday. The 74 new fast electric charging stations could be operational within 60 days.

“The result of all this work will mean electric car owners will not have to worry about where they will be able to charge their car when using our major highways,” he said.

The first round of new charging stations will focus on South and Central Florida, along interstates 75 and 95. Future plans include expanding into the Panhandle and Interstate 10.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein highlighted the news Friday as another win for the Sunshine State, following measures the Governor signed at the end of June protecting the state’s watersheds and raising sewage spill fines.

“Today’s all about air,” Valenstein said. “Again, it’s another day and another step forward the environment here in Florida.”

A month ago, the Governor signed legislation (SB 7018) starting a charging station study that explores where the state should expand its charging grid. Those findings are due by June 30, 2021.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Florida has approximately 16,600 registered electric vehicles, ranking it third in the nation, and 4,863 public and private charging outlets. Meanwhile, California leads the nation with 179,600 vehicles and 30,327 outlets.

“These Teslas, I’ve gotten a chance to ride in a couple of them — really, really phenomenal vehicles,” DeSantis said.

Electric vehicles currently make up about 1% of the market, but in a few years, they could be on price parity with traditional cars, says Dylan Reed, director of Advanced Energy Economy. States need to be prepared with charging infrastructure, so consumers feel comfortable to buy an electric vehicle, he told Florida Politics upon the bill’s passage.

Charging stations along the Turnpike System will also help facilitate hurricane evacuations, DeSantis said.

The new legislation also allows the Division of Emergency Management to create emergency staging grounds along the Turnpike.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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