Bill to promote electric vehicle charging competition gets green light from House panel
Image via AP.

Revel electric vehicle charging station
Lawmakers want to make it easier for new companies to enter the EV charging industry.

Legislation to promote the continued expansion of Florida’s electric vehicle grid rolled out of its first House committee on Tuesday. But critics argue the bill could do the opposite.

The bill (HB 737), carried by Sweetwater Republican Rep. David Borrero, would attempt to avoid monopolies in the electric vehicle, or EV, charging station industry by promoting competition. Members of the House Tourism, Infrastructure and Energy Subcommittee voted 13-3 to advance the bill to its second committee.

The bill would ask the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to adopt rules in a competitively neutral manner to allow for competition. Additionally, the measure would allow electric vehicle “pump” providers to participate in legal cases over PSC rates.

The proposal also would prevent privately owned power companies from “rate basing” and footing homeowners with the operating costs of charging stations purchased beginning Jan. 1, 2024. Utility companies would not have to divest charging stations installed before the rules take effect beginning in 2024.

Borrero told the committee his bill would promote free-market principles around a growing industry. Within 20 years, electric vehicle sales could account for more than half of all vehicle sales globally.

“If we do nothing, this will allow the investor-owned utilities to rate base and edge out all competition in the market,” Borrero said.

A provision within the bill encouraging the PSC to “establish incentives that support private investment in charging equipment” doesn’t include monetary incentives, Borrero told members. However, even those who voted in favor of the bill asked him to clarify the measure in future committees, which Borrero said he would consider.

Some voiced concern the bill would allow charging station operators from out of state to get involved in PSC rate cases. Associated Industries of Florida lobbyist Adam Basford also feared preventing utility companies from shifting costs to residential customers would slow down utility companies’ investments in charging stations.

However, Borrero told the committee those who don’t use a utility shouldn’t be asked to cover the costs of a service for a minority of Floridians.

Port St. Joe Republican Rep. Jason Shoaf argued the PSC has no jurisdiction over charging stations, and West Palm Beach Republican Rep. Rick Roth disputed that the PSC could promote competition.

“We’re going to have a regulatory commission try to encourage private investment,” Roth said. “To me, it just seems a little weird.”

Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine said he purchased a Tesla vehicle because he didn’t like buying gasoline “from countries that wanted to kill” him. As an electric vehicle driver, he continued, he has firsthand knowledge of range anxiety — concerns a vehicle won’t have enough stored energy or fueling stations to reach its destination.

“There’s not just one place to fill up your car with gas,” Fine said. “There should be many options for you to fill up your car with electricity.”

Following the vote, Charge Ahead Partnership executive director Jay Smith issued a statement saying the bill could help alleviate insecurities facing prospective electric vehicle buyers.

“The committee sent a strong message that the Sunshine State is ready to lead the country in allowing the free market and private investment to bring EV chargers to more communities,” Smith said. “This legislation would remove barriers for more businesses to own and operate EV chargers so that recharging a vehicle is as seamless as refueling a gas-powered vehicle is today.”

The bill and a similar measure carried by Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry (SB 920) would start taking effect July 1. Borrero’s bill next heads to the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee while Perry’s bill next heads to the Senate Transportation Committee.

The hearing follows an announcement from President Joe Biden‘s administration Thursday clearing states to use $5 billion in federal funds over five years under Biden’s infrastructure law to sketch out a vision of seamless climate-friendly car travel from coast to coast.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government 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 [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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