By Mary Linn, The Electrification Coalition
Electric cars are rolling into driveways across Florida. Almost 700,000 electric vehicles are expected on Florida’s roads by 2030. Florida residents are buying electric cars rapidly, with only California residents buying more EVs than Floridians.
Florida’s roadways are some of the most traveled in the nation, serving nearly 22 million residents and over 122 million annual visitors. But where will the infrastructure come from to charge the electric vehicles between the Keys and Pensacola?
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed this summer with a $350 billion investment in highway programs over five years. This law will rebuild America’s roads and rails, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.
Florida’s share of funds is $198 million under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program, which will be administered by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The required non-Federal match for NEVI funds is 20%. Florida anticipates using FDOT’s toll development credits to meet the funding gap.
Implementation of the NEVI program will include 170 direct current fast chargers along 1,200 miles of the most traveled corridors in the state. These charging stations are the fastest on the market. Charging times are in minutes as opposed to Level 2 chargers that require hours to complete a full charge.
Electric charging stations will be built every 50 miles along interstates with a goal of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers nationwide. FDOT must use the first part of the funding to build its alternative fuel corridors.
NEVI guidance requires that EV charging infrastructure be conveniently and safely located as close to interstates and highway corridors as possible. Charging stations must be no more than one mile from interstate exits or highway intersections along designated corridors.
The plan also targets rural areas. The current EV market has neglected Florida’s rural areas, but rural and urban disadvantaged communities are targeted to enhance Florida’s overall transportation system.
Community grants provide $1.25 billion to install electric vehicle charging and alternative fuel in locations on public roads, schools, parks, and publicly accessible parking facilities. These grants will prioritize rural areas, low-and moderate-income neighborhoods, and communities with low ratios of private parking or high ratios of multiunit dwellings.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has set minimum standards for the electric vehicle charging network. The goal is to ensure a consistent customer experience and set the stage for greater electric vehicle adoption.
The proposal would require standard plugs, American-made EV chargers, minimum uptimes, data-sharing provisions, and the ability for fast charging stations to simultaneously charge at least four vehicles at a minimum power of 150 kW.
Another feature of electric vehicles is that they can send power back to the grid. EVs with two-way charging capability can be used to power a home backup power if a hurricane strikes Florida. An EV is essentially a large battery on wheels. This emerging technology, known as vehicle-to-grid, has the potential for tens of thousands of electric vehicles to supply power during a hurricane.
Public feedback will guide the EV charging implementation process, which is designed to allow for tailored approaches to reach each audience. Strategies will not be a one-size-fits-all approach but will be determined to best fit community needs. So, buckle your seat belt, and let’s drive electric in Florida!
Mary Linn lives in Orlando. She works as the Fl/GA Campaign Organizer for The Electrification Coalition. The nonprofit/nonpartisan organization drives policies and actions that will electrify all modes of transportation to protect economic and national security, public health, and American jobs.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.