Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed the Essential State Infrastructure bill, which received bipartisan support in Tallahassee. This new law has several facets, but as it relates to electric vehicles (EVs) it, “Requires the FDOT, in coordination with the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Office of Energy within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and any other public or private entities as necessary or appropriate, to develop and recommend a master plan for the development of electric vehicle charging station infrastructure along the State Highway System.”
The recommended master plan must “be developed and submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by July 1, 2021. The plan must include recommendations for legislation and may include other recommendations as determined by the FDOT. The bill also requires the FDOT, by December 1, 2020, to file a status report containing any preliminary recommendations, including recommendations for legislation to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House.”
Florida’s new law is being hailed as a major advance for EV use in the state. For example, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy called the new law “a big win for Florida’s consumers as it will grow the electric transportation market faster and create opportunities so more Floridians have access to increased cleaner transportation options. The law is also one of the first pieces of state legislation that acknowledges the risks of climate change and identifies electric transportation as a means to combat it.”
Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, reports that the new law “lays the groundwork for building a vast network of electric vehicle charging stations along highways, part of a broader effort to improve the appeal of such environmentally cleaner cars and trucks.”
More good news for the future of EVs came on July 10, 2020, when Governor DeSantis announced that funds obtained from the Volkswagen Class Action Settlement will be used to build 74 additional fast-charging stations, projected to be up and running in the next 60 days. Combined with the chargers FDOT is installing along Florida’s Turnpike, a total of 104 fast-charging stations will be installed along over 1,200 miles of highway, covering the most traveled corridors in the state.
The private sector is also helping to promote EVs. FPL states that “one in five vehicles sold in the U.S. will be battery-powered by 2030.” Currently, Florida has the third-highest number of EVs in the country, trailing only California and Washington. FPL has been a leader in the field and believes the “availability of charging infrastructure is key to a good experience for EV drivers.”
As an owner of an EV for slightly over a year, I would certainly agree with that sentiment. EVs are great for local use, where they can easily be recharged as needed. They do require planning, though, when traveling – especially when in rural areas. However, it appears Florida will soon have a much more robust network of charging stations for traveling EV drivers. When it does, FPL’s 2030 estimate of one in five vehicles sold being battery-powered might be low for vehicles sold in Florida. As FPL correctly notes, “Along with their environmental benefits, EVs save on fuel and maintenance, offer quick acceleration and a quiet, smooth ride.” The recent law and the July 10 announcement will help erase a resistance many currently have to buying an EV.
Lesser, Lesser, Landy and Smith applauds the efforts to encourage the use of EVs in Florida. Hopefully, you will never need us, but if you, a loved one or a friend have been injured in any type of vehicular accident, we are here to help and have been since 1927 – when the Model A was the new rage.
This blog is written by Partner Mickey Smith.