Opinion: State must prohibit utilities from taking over EV charging networks | Opportunity For All Floridians

Opinion: State must prohibit utilities from taking over EV charging networks

Florida ranks second in the nation when it comes to the number of electric vehicles on our roads. For travelers who are driving far from home, these EVs need a place to charge.  

EV charging seems a natural fit for a business such as Gate Petroleum. Our convenience store locations in Florida, many of which are located off major highways, offer the amenities that local commuters and travelers are looking for. Unfortunately, Florida’s EV charging marketplace is a monopoly.  

Regulators in Florida have ceded the EV charging marketplace to power companies, allowing them to raise power bills by millions of dollars to build a network of EV chargers.  

This means that everyone who pays a power bill is paying for these utility-owned EV charging programs, regardless of whether you own an EV or not. This is not fair to residents and it discourages private investment by businesses. Companies like Gate — who already have the locations, snacks, shelter, restrooms and accessibility that drivers want — can’t compete. No private business would sink $100,000 or more to install EV chargers with the knowledge that some of the state’s most powerful monopolies can undercut them, using your ratepayer funds.  

The second issue is that utilities are able to charge businesses who install an EV charger with exorbitant fees on the sale of electricity for EV charging. In certain instances, it could cost a business more to pay the power bill for a single vehicle to charge than it would normally cost to pay the entire utility bill for the month.  

Florida lawmakers have the chance to take action this year by prohibiting utilities from using ratepayer revenue to build EV charging stations that deter private investment. 

Lawmakers should also direct the Florida Public Service Commission to establish a standard rate for the resale of electricity so that retailers can know exactly how much they are paying for the electricity that their customers are pumping into their EVs. Prohibiting utility ownership and establishing a rate for EV charging will level the playing field in EV charging. This is a common-sense solution that stakeholders from across the political spectrum agree upon.  

Florida should be a leader in spurring the free-market growth of this new technology. As long as public utilities hold the reigns, your power bill will continue to rise and private investors and innovators in EV charging will go elsewhere.

John Peyton was the mayor of Jacksonville from 2003-2011. He is the president of GATE Petroleum Co.

 


This opinion piece originally appeared in the Florida Times-Union on April 9, 2023

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