First-of-its-kind policy analysis of best practices from across U.S. and globally
With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, a new study by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible. The new report, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” includes local and state data for Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville about the projected number of electric cars expected on the road in coming years, and how cities can accommodate these new EVs with enough places to park and recharge.
“More and more Floridians are plugging into electric cars and leaving gas-guzzlers behind,” stated Jennifer Rubiello of Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. “We have an opportunity to make a positive change after more than a century of vehicles spewing pollutants into the air. Local and state officials who want to plug into this opportunity need to commit to an EV-friendly infrastructure as smooth and fast as possible.”
In particular, the report calls on local officials to implement the following EV-friendly policies:
• Residential access to on-street EV charging
• Access to public charging stations
• Support for private investment in publicly-accessible stations
• Incentivized EV parking and charging
EV sales nationwide increased 38% in 2016, and then another 32% throughout 2017, as charging stations became more convenient. Those electric car purchases reflect Americans’ values, including a desire to protect our communities’ public health, reduce global warming pollution and stop using so much oil.
Even the change-resistant auto industry recognizes that the future is electric. GM plans to launch 20 EV models by 2023, while Ford announced last month it plans to invest $11 billion in EVs, with a goal of having 40 models by 2022. These new cars don’t just check off the “electric” box; they’re earning acclaim from mainstream car enthusiasts. Motor Trend even named Chevrolet’s Bolt the 2017 Car of the Year.
Environment Florida Research & Policy Center’s “Plugging In” report estimates that Jacksonville could possibly see 36,000 new electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
But with more electric vehicles on the road, and many more coming soon, cities need to map out where EVs will charge, particularly in city centers and neighborhoods without off-street parking. In all, major cities will need to install hundreds to thousands of new publicly-accessible electric vehicle chargers to keep the increased number of EVs running, depending on the size of the city. Tampa, for example, will need to install 400% more public charging stations to meet demand.
“American cities risk being unprepared for the impending arrival of thousands of electric vehicles on their streets,” said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and co-author of “Plugging In.” “Without forward-thinking policies that give EV owners places to park and charge their vehicles, cities could lose out on the health and air quality benefits that electric vehicles can deliver,” Miller said.
“The next generation of vehicles is already available, and is powered by clean, cost efficient energy,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard. “One of the biggest barriers to greater EV adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure. As an electric vehicle owner myself, I’m excited for more tools to be available to cities and counties in Florida that will help to speed adoption of these clean vehicles. We need to be proactive now in building the energy infrastructure needed to support the fast approaching future of transportation.”
Thankfully, cities in Florida are beginning to embrace the shift towards electric vehicles. The cities of Oldsmar and Dunedin in Pinellas County are hosting Sustain The Bay: A Drive Electric Event featuring interactive educational exhibits and an electric vehicle showcase on March 31st from 10AM-2PM.
“The fully realized electric car is changing everything from our homes to highways to our parking lots at work and wherever we drive,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Promoting the use of electric vehicles means cleaner air, and running vehicles on homegrown energy – including clean, renewable energy from solar and wind. We must pivot now and look for the best practices in public infrastructure and planning to accommodate these cars if we are to continue mobility as we know it in the next twenty years.”
The report’s authors note that local and state officials increasingly are having to lead on issues related to climate change, clean energy, and clean cars, as the Trump administration dismantles federal policies that offered concrete solutions to these issues. In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to propose new steps towards revoking federal fuel efficiency standards and weakening clean car policies.
On the other hand, the pending distribution of $166 million in Florida from the Volkswagen scandal settlement, provides a great opportunity to fund electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric buses.
“Adopting smart public policies, which have been implemented already in visionary American and international cities, can help more U.S. cities lead the electric vehicle revolution,” noted Rubiello. “For the sake of our public health and environment, it’s crucial that we expand access to clean transportation for those who live, work and play in our urban centers. And once we complete the transition away from gasoline and diesel, we can all breathe easier and see more clearly.”