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Will Florida’s improved electric vehicle infrastructure convince people to buy an EV?

FPL Evolution chargers at Turnpike Plaza in West Palm Beach, Fl.
Thomas Winter
/
Florida Power & Light Company
FPL Evolution chargers at Turnpike Plaza in West Palm Beach, Fl.

The Department of Energy reported sales of electric vehicles grew nationwide by 85 percent from 2020 to 2021. Florida ranks second to California, with close to 96,000 registered electric vehicles — up from 58,000 a year ago.

EV s make up only around 1% of cars on Florida’s roads.

Besides the high price of electric vehicles, range anxiety and charging access are the main reasons why drivers aren’t willing to make the switch. In an effort to boost charging infrastructure, support EV adoption and range confidence, FPL is expanding Florida’s electric vehicle infrastructure. “We’re installing more than 1,000 charge ports at over 200 locations across Florida , and there’s going to be a lot more to come,” said Anuj Chokshi, director of distributed technologies and e-mobility at FPL. FPL began installing EV charging stations in 2020.

The majority of these ports are Level 2–slow chargers. They’re used to “top off” batteries while at work or around town and add around 10 to 20 miles of electric range per hour of charging, depending on the vehicle. So, if you’re running errands and plug in for three hours, you can add another 30-60 miles of range. In a gas car, that would equal one to two gallons of gas. FPL’s Level 2 chargers can be found in over a dozen South Florida cities — free of charge.

To alleviate range anxiety, FPL will have 34 fast-charge sites up and running by the end of the summer. They’ll be spaced approximately 25 miles apart along highly trafficked highways.

“That’s much higher speed stations that allow vehicles to charge or have a substantial amount of charge in about 20 to 30 minutes,” Chokshi said.

Randy Peddicord purchased his all-electric Volkswagen ID4 eight months ago for his commute from Jensen Beach to Sebring — a 200-mile round trip. He thinks EVs are best for driving short distances.

“When you look at your gas cars, you can stay in that car 5 hours, 6 hours before you have to fill it up depending on what you’re driving. That’s why I’d never take it on a long trip,” Peddicord said.

He charges at home during off-peak hours and avoids using public chargers.

Nick Bonardi and his Tesla Model 3
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Bertucci zum Tobel
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Nick Bonardi and his Tesla Model 3

Nick Bonardi traveled from Florida to California three times since he purchased his Tesla Model 3 in February 2020. He used the Tesla supercharger network.

“There were a couple spots that were difficult — in rural Utah there weren’t too many, but overall I didn’t have any major issues. I didn’t need to get anywhere immediately,” he said.

Bonardi said EVs can get a little complicated — and they’re not for everyone.

“It takes a few months to get adjusted to driving the car knowing exactly how much range you have, you almost have to be a little conservative,” Bonardi said.

The Tesla guided Bonardi during his trip — after inputting his destination, the car’s screen displayed various Tesla charging locations. In rural areas, Bonardi used the PlugShare app to find third-party chargers.

Bonardi’s Tesla Model 3 has an average range of around 240 miles. During his trip to California, he stopped every 2 hours to charge his battery 50% — which took about 20-30 minutes using a Tesla public fast charger. The fee? A full charge cost him between $18 and $44. Bonardi said that in California, prices were as high as $0.58 per kWh at the Tesla supercharger network. He said that repeated fast-charging can affect the long-term range of the battery.

Kellen Schefter is the senior director of electric transportation for the Edison Electric Institute. Their National Electric Highway Coalition is committed to providing EV fast charging stations along major U.S. travel corridors by the end of 2023. FPL is a member.

“These DC fast charging stations really are designed to deliver what you need to get back going on the road in a short amount of time, say 15 to 45 minutes, somewhere you can stop for lunch and then keep going on your journey,” Schefter said.

According to Schefter, the number of EVs on the road will be close to 27 million nationwide by 2030. He said, in order to keep up with demand, we’ll need 13 million charge ports. He believes standardizing fast-charge networks is vital for nationwide EV adoption.

“I think, a challenge for drivers today when you go up to any given station, what are you gonna experience? What am I gonna pay? How is it gonna work? Is it gonna work with my vehicle? So there's a lot of sorting out, I think, that this industry has to do,” Schefter said.

At FPL’s fast charging stations, drivers pay for power supplied to their vehicles at an established rate of $0.30 per kWh, which is subject to applicable taxes and fees, including gross receipts tax, franchise charge, utility tax and Florida sales tax.

Last month, the Biden administration adopted a goal of building a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030 as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The idea is to make electric vehicle charging accessible and to alleviate the range anxiety that is still holding many Americans back from purchasing one.

The administration will distribute $5 billion dollars to states over five years to expand their EV infrastructure — and Florida could receive $198 million of it.

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Yvonne Bertucci zum Tobel