On Friday, DeSantis announced the state will spend $8.6 million from a legal settlement with Volkswagen to add 34 fast-charging stations along Interstate 95, Interstate 4, Interstate 75, Interstate 275 and Interstate 295.
In all, the state awarded 27 contracts to set up the 34 stations. ChargePoint, a California-based company, and 7-Eleven each got seven contracts to set up stations. Canadian energy storage company (and new CleanTech Alliance Member) eCamion got five contracts. EVgo, with the largest network of fast charging stations in the U.S., got three. Florida Power & Light won two. One each went to OBE Power, Orlando Utilities Commission and Truck Stop 75.
Project selection was based on the proximity of stations to highways and amenities and the importance of hurricane evacuation routes, according to the governor’s office.
DeSantis defended his efforts to reopen the economy when he was asked about approving projects that would benefit owners of Tesla vehicles — with a starting price of $33,690 on the company website — during a time of high unemployment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want to put people back to work,” DeSantis replied. “And yes, look, I can’t afford a Tesla either. But it’s something that as these things become more affordable and more widely available, having that infrastructure there, I think will be really, really positive.”
Amid the massive job losses and business shutdowns caused by the pandemic, the state has put an emphasis on speeding up road projects as a way to keep money flowing and to take advantage of reductions in traffic.
Friday’s announcement came just over a month after DeSantis signed into law a directive (SB 7018) for the Public Service Commission to develop electric-vehicle charging stations along state highways, with the planning done in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Most of the fast-charging station work will initially be in Central Florida and South Florida, where more electric vehicles are on the road.