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Officials: Florida not lagging but ‘early’ in developing electric vehicle infrastructure



(The Center Square) – By 2040, nearly 60% of passenger vehicle sales in Florida will be electric and 35% of cars on Sunshine State roads will be electric vehicles (EVs), according to estimates by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

“EVs are coming. It is not a matter of if, it’s simply when,” Florida Power& Light (FPL) Vice President Matt Valle told the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday.

FPL’s Valle and Assistant FDOT Secretary Brad Thoburn delivered presentations on the Florida Electric Vehicle Roadmap to the Senate panel in the afternoon after doing so before the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee that morning.

The proposed EV network master plan was completed in December 2020 at the behest of state lawmakers when they adopted an “essential infrastructure” omnibus package in 2019.

“This is really a jumping off point,” Thoburn said. “We’re early on this. We’re watching a ton of other activities and pilots and different policy conversations coming on.”

Thoburn emphasized that Florida is not lagging in EV development, contrary to common misperception that the state does not have the infrastructure to support them. The report cites this “lack of education (as) one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption” and recommends the state “develop a statewide EV educational campaign that can be rebranded locally.”

The FDOT EV road map contradicts some of the findings posted in October 2020 by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Atlas Public Policy in their Transportation Electrification in Florida study.

According to the study, Florida is second in the nation in EV sales, but near the bottom in terms of government and utility investment.

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“Utility engagement and supportive state policies are needed to ensure Floridians can fully access the economic, public health and climate benefits that EVs deliver,” the SACE/Atlas study said.

According to FDOT’s EV Road Map, there is ample Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) in the state to meet current and near-future demand.

As of June 2020, the report states, there were 3,907 Level 2 charging plugs and 844 direct current fast charges (DCFC) plugs in Florida, including the Tesla charging network that serves roughly half of the EVs in Florida.

“Based on our analysis, projected counts reveal that there is enough DCFC to meet charging demand until 2025 and enough Level 2 chargers exists throughout the state to meet infrastructure needs for the next ten years,” the report states. “These projections will surprise many that believe Florida lacks sufficient EVSE to meet current charging demand. Addressing misconceptions like this one is critical to widespread EV adoption.”

As EVs gradually become more prominent on roads, gas taxes that fund transportation infrastructure will correspondingly decline by as much as 20% by 2040.

Thoburn said finding alternate revenue sources to gas taxes will be a key component to developing the state’s EV networks.

State Representative Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, who said he has owned an EV for years, wondered if there was a way electric utility taxes generated by those who charge EVs at home could be allocated to the FDOH.

“If I’m consuming power,” he said, “I’m paying taxes on that.”

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Gayle Harrell said the road map will “orient” lawmakers as they ponder EV-related bills during the 2022 legislative session, which kicks off its 60-day run on Jan. 11.

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