Florida Lawmakers Consider Green Energy Bills

Feb 5, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center estimates there are 10 charging stations for electric cars in Leon County.
Credit Michael Flippo / Adobe Stock

Lawmakers are considering a move to build more electric car charging stations on state highways. They're also looking into a measure to pave the way for solar energy in schools. 

 

Rep. Dan Daley (D-Coral Springs) says people have been coming into his office to talk to him about electric cars. Often they have the same complaint. He says once electric vehicle drivers get north of Orlando where the turnpike ends, its hard for them to make the leap to Tallahassee because there aren't adequate charging stations.

Tesla has a supercharger station in Tallahassee. According to the company's website, it's located at Village Commons Shopping Center.
Credit W. Scott McGill / Adobe Stock

Daley wants the state to start planning where it should place charging stations on highways. He says Florida should be a leader on environmental issues.

 

"More and more people are going to switch to EV—to electric vehicles, and I think we need to be prepared for that," Daley says.

 

Melanie Bostick, with Advanced Energy Economy, is supporting Daley's bill. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there are more than 800 charging stations in the state. But Bostick says more are needed for electric vehicles to become mainstream.

 

"While the industry is ready to invest, the lack of charging infrastructure is holding back the market for EV growth," Bostick says.

 

 According to a state analysis, stations could take 20 minutes to 20 hours to fully charge cars. So determining what type of station will be available on the highway, will be one of the challenges the state will face.

 

Public schools can already install solar energy infrastructure, but it has to fit within certain budget limitations.
Credit mmphoto / Adobe Stock

Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg) is also pushing a green energy bill. Right now, public schools have a max amount they can spend on construction projects—no matter where the money comes from. Webb wants to exclude solar energy from that cap. She has a bill to do that. She hopes it will allow schools to save money in the long run.

 

"Our schools spend half a billion dollars a year, just on energy costs. That's billion with a 'b,'" Webb says, "So this is money that if they offset through solar, they can redirect into the classroom and direct into student learning," Webb says.

 

Webb's bill wouldn't force schools to use solar but would let them put money from donations toward solar energy projects.