Florida lacks electric vehicle charging stations, but Sarasota bucks the trend

·3 min read

Florida may rank as the eighth least accessible state to charge an electric vehicle, but Sarasota County bucks that statewide trend.

Based on new research from Forbes Advisor, the ratio of electric cars to single charging stations in the state is 23.92, which slots in between Oregon (25.30) and Texas (23.88). There are 58,160 registered electric vehicles, second most of any state, and 2,431 charging stations in Florida. In fact, 3% of all cars sold in Florida were electric last year.

But the relatively low number of charging stations is a concern.

The ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station at 1525 1st. St. in downtown Sarasota.
The ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station at 1525 1st. St. in downtown Sarasota.

Electric Vehicles: Bird Rides will soon bring scooter and e-bike sharing service to downtown Bradenton

And: Sarasota government leaders consider how to use infrastructure bill funding

Sarasota County is second in the state in electric vehicles per capita, proving that there is a need for charging stations in the area. And despite the poor numbers statewide, the county is a leader when it comes to charging station access.

Currently, there are 19 county-owned charging stations in Sarasota, with 30 ports available via those charging stations. In total, there are 138 public charging stations in the county, with 115 free to use.

Sara Kane, the Sustainability Program Supervisor for the UF/IFAS extension office of the county, believes that Sarasota’s electric vehicle use will only increase.

“Right now, with the gas prices being so high, I think a lot of people are interested in learning more about that, and how they can switch over to a more efficient vehicle,” Kane said.

The need for charging stations in the county was initially satisfied by grant funding via the Department of Energy and the Pollution Recovery Act, with current county-wide initiatives including the ChargeUP! rebate program. That program offers rebates to local businesses, nonprofits and governments when they install charging stations.

To balance the share of charging stations throughout the county, 30% of the ChargeUP! funds are geared towards installing charging stations in south Sarasota County.

Additionally, the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act allocates $29 million (of $5 billion total) for electric charging stations in Florida. Kane said that the county is still determining where exactly to install charging stations using that funding.

Next steps include "getting together with other people in the area, other cities, municipalities, community members, to identify the location needs, and maybe even doing some sort of study that would allow us to identify those areas where we need to install charging stations,” Kane said.

Kane also mentioned that the county offers classes about charging infrastructure and types of electric cars, in online and in-person formats, for any residents or groups (such as neighborhood associations) interested in learning more about electric vehicles.

She said that her requests for presentations have increased significantly over the last six months.

Manatee County currently only has 25 public charging stations. County Information Outreach Manager Bill Logan said that the county does not have a specific department dedicated to installing and funding electric charging stations.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota County has good electric vehicle charging; Florida does not