Florida ranks second in the country, behind only California, in electric vehicle (EV) sales. With smart investments in charging infrastructure, we could lead the nation in the growth of electric vehicles.
With gas prices continuing to rise, the buzz surrounding EVs in Florida has continued to increase and drivers and investors are starting to take note. Thanks to SB 7018 (2020), the Florida Department of Transportation and numerous stakeholders created an electric vehicle roadmap for the state. This roadmap included a number of strong recommendations for putting in place adequate charging infrastructure to ensure that Floridians can travel where they want and need in an EV.
Now with the legislature in full swing, there are bills pending that could accelerate the development of a public charging network across the state.
Senate Bill 920 and House Bill 747 would direct the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to create rules for EV infrastructure in the state. These rules would incentivize a competitive market for charging infrastructure in Florida and facilitate the deployment of electric vehicle supply equipment. The legislation would also restrict the role of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the deployment of that infrastructure in the state by prohibiting IOUs from including charging infrastructure in the utility’s rate base.
These bills provide an important starting point, but as written, they would fail to meet the infrastructure needs identified in the EV roadmap.
Advanced Energy Economy would like to see the Legislature amend these bills to ensure that the state’s utilities play their part in giving EV drivers in Florida the charging system they need. The legislation needs to give utilities incentives to connect third-party-owned charging infrastructure to the electric grid while also directing them to install charging infrastructure in areas where private investment is unlikely to meet charging needs. With these two changes in the proposed legislation, lawmakers can make sure that Florida is prepared to meet the demand presented by the growing number of electric vehicles on the road.
Florida is primed to be not just the Sunshine State but also the EV State. If the Legislature gets charging infrastructure right, we will be.
Ebo Entsuah is a Clermont City Council member and policy principal at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE).