Utility monopolies are profiting from the electric vehicle (EV) charging station industry and their customers are paying the cost. In the Florida Legislature, a debate is raging over who should control the state’s EV charging stations. On one side are the state’s investor-owned utilities, such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, and Tampa Electric. On the other side are gas stations and charging manufacturers, who want to compete to operate the charging stations.
In 2022, Rep. David Borrero, a Miami Republican, introduced House Bill 737, which aimed to have the Florida Public Service Commission issue rules for EV charging infrastructure deployment in a competitively neutral manner. The bill would have ended the practice of allowing Investor Owned Utilities to pass the cost of EV charging stations to their customers. The bill had support from Chargepoint, an EV infrastructure company, and Racetrac, a gas station chain in the South. However, the bill failed to pass after being heard in two committees, with speculation that the investor-owned utilities were responsible for its defeat.
Rep. Borrero argued that the current system allows those who can afford more expensive EVs to be subsidized by those who own gas-powered vehicles. The utilities are allowed to pass on the cost of building charging stations to their customers through increased rates, giving them an unfair competitive advantage over other companies. Under the bill, ratepayers would continue to pay for utility-owned charging stations until January 2024, but after that, it would be prohibited, and regulators would encourage competition. There was no opposition from the state’s utilities, but a lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida, a business lobby funded by the utilities, spoke against the bill. Similar to the House version, the Senate version passed its first committee but failed in the second committee. The legislation would have made it illegal for regulated utilities to charge all Florida customers for infrastructure that generates profits for utility stockholders.”
The current system of allowing the state’s investor-owned electric utilities to finance and control the EV charging stations while passing the costs on to the customer base through increased rates is both unfair and stifling to competition. The 2022 House Bill 737, which aimed to encourage competition and private investment in the deployment of EV charging infrastructure, was unfortunately killed by the utilities. It is time for the Florida Legislature to take action and level the playing field for all companies to participate in the emerging EV market. By fostering a competitive and private investment-driven environment, the state can reap the benefits of innovation, job creation, and lower costs for its residents. It’s time to end the monopoly of the investor-owned electric utilities and let competition drive the future of EVs in Florida.