Electric vehicles: FL using VW settlement dollars for more charging stations statewide

Electric-vehicle charging stations are becoming more common in Florida. Credit: Getty Images

Interstate highways in Florida will see installation of additional electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations this summer, thanks to $8.6 million from $166 million of settlement funds provided by Volkswagen after federal inspectors found the company falsified emissions data.

At a press conference in Orlando last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state will spend the $8.6 million to install 34 fast-charging stations along I-95, I-4, I-75, I-275 and I-295 to promote clean transportation. Chargers on interstates in the Panhandle would come later, he said.

PlugShare map of EV charging stations in Miami-Dade. Credit: PlugShare.com

Biologist, climate activist and former South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard applauds expanded support for EVs and said far more is required to mitigate damage from climate change, evidenced already in Florida by sea-level rise, excessive heat days, and severe weather. He said his city has made EV charging stations readily available since 2017 and converted its municipal fleet to EVs.

“They are absurdly reliable. … You get someone behind the wheel, and they fall in love with it,” Stoddard said in an interview with the Florida Phoenix. “More and more of them are on the road.”

Stoddard said Florida leaders must be more aggressive about adopting clean energy to offset damage being caused by climate change.

“We’re so vulnerable, we have to be leaders,” Stoddard said “Coastal communities have to be in front.”

ChargeHub says there are 644 charging ports in Miami, of which about a third offer charge-ups for free. It cites Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Sarasota and Tampa as additional “EV-friendly cities” in Florida. Orlando has nearly 400 charging ports, according to ChargeHub.

ChargeHub and PlugShare are among the online and mobile-friendly tools that direct motorists to nearby EV charging stations.

Under the Volkswagen settlement of 2016, Florida was allotted $166 million in 2018 to improve air quality, including reducing diesel emissions by replacing diesel buses with electric ones in school districts and transit agencies, as outlined on the governor’s website.  The EV charging funds will support 74 new fast chargers statewide, atop charging stations the state is installing along the Florida Turnpike.