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St. Augustine Ranks No. 2 In Florida On Electric Vehicle Report Card

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Bill Bortzfield
/
WJCT News
A Ford Fusion Energi charges at a ChargeWell-branded ChargePoint station on Riverside Avenue.

A new report card from The League of Women Voters In Florida ranks counties and cities on how accessible electric vehicle charging stations are.

The league looked at charging locations in the Department of Energy database, assigning ranks and grades based on the number of stations per 10,000 residents.

St. Augustine came in second among cities statewide with 10.7 charging locations per 10,000 residents.

Of course, that rate does not reflect St. Johns County's millions of annual visitors. 

Four public charging stalls were recently added along two St. Augustine streets, and a search on plugshare.com shows nearly 20 charging stations in the area, including those at hotels not open to the public. 

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This plugshare.com map shows locations of charging stations in the St. Augustine area. It includes stations that are not available to the general public, such as those at hotels.

By the same measure, Jacksonville ranked No. 27 with .08 charging locations per 10,000 residents. As a consolidated county, Duval did better, receiving a grade of B and ranking of 12.

First Coast area counties were ranked as follows:

Rank    County     Grade   Charging stations per 10,000

4.            Nassau        A            1.45

9.            St. Johns    B             .88

12.          Duval          B             .81

.48.         Clay            F             .09

Counties with no charging stations in the database at the time of the survey weren’t ranked.

Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, was ranked No. 1 statewide, with 4.06 charging locations per 10,000 residents, and Naples was the No. 1 city, with 13.8 locations per 10,000 residents.

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Credit plugshare.com
This map from plugshare.com shows First Coast area charging stations.

The League of Women Voters is embracing electric vehicles, saying it wants to educate the public about the health benefits of electrifying transportation and what it calls the "urgent" need for charging infrastructure.

“It's our hope, and it certainly has had that impact in other areas where we've released progress reports or report cards, that elected officials are sensitive to grades,” said former League of Women Voters of Florida President Deirdre Macnab. “And we want them to see that Florida has made some significant progress.”

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Credit BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS
A Tesla Model 3 and Model S charge at the ChargeWell-branded ChargePoint station at the Cummer Art Museum & Gardens.

The number of charging stations for plug-in hybrid vehicles and EVs has been multiplying rapidly in the past two years, both in Florida and nationwide.

Electrify America is one of the fastest growing players in the EV charging arena. It is funded by Volkswagen as part of the “dieselgate” emissions settlement. That effort is concentrating primarily on building Level 3 charging stations – the fastest type – across the country.

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Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News
Electrify America recently opened these Level 3 CCS and CHAdeMO charging stalls at The Avenues mall.

In July, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that $24.9 million of the VW settlement, or 15 percent, would go toward placing charging stations for electric vehicles at all Florida Turnpike service plazas by the end of the year, with similar infrastructure along other major highways.  

Electrify America recently opened a station at The Avenues mall that can charge at speeds of up to 350kw per hour, although no cars are on the road yet that can charge that fast.

But they’re coming.

The 2020 Porsche Taycan is now in production and will be arriving at dealerships soon. An early production Taycan recently charged at an Electrify America station, sucking down 270kw, which allowed it to go from a 5 to 80 percent charge in under 23 minutes, according to Electrify America.

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Credit Electrify America
A 2020 Porsche Taycan is pictured charging at 270 kilowatts at an Electrify America station in Bloomsburg, Pa.

And Tesla’s V3 Superchargers are starting to roll out. They support peak charging up to 250kw, which means at peak efficiency its Model 3 can add up to 75 miles of range in 5 minutes.

The other major charging company on the First Coast – outside of Tesla’s Superchargers – is ChargePoint.  It’s expanded to more than 30 locations in the Jacksonville area, thanks in large part to a public/private partnership put together by the North Florida TPO.

As part of its Regional Alternative Fuels Master Plan, the North Florida TPO provided $300,000 for Phase 1 that resulted in 25 GuideWell branded ChargePoint  stations in partnership with JEA within its service territory. 

Currently, the TPO is expanding the ChargeWell network in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties as part of Phase 2, including the four new ChargePoint stalls in Downtown St. Augustine. Two were installed in Fernandina Beach, and two more should be going live any day now in Jacksonville Beach.

All in all, TPO spokeswoman Marci Larson estimates 18 or 19 have been installed so far as part of the $400,000 of funding allotted for Phase 2.

“We can possibly do up to 30 charging stations,” said Larson, and her agency expects to have all of the Phase 2 stations up and running by June 30, 2020.

The TPO’s funding for charging stations comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Larson said.

“The idea is to try to spread them out as much as possible. And so we’re looking for those opportunities where we think that the greatest number of people will use them,” she said.

According to the League of Women Voters, their research shows EV buyers save about $10,000 over 10 years versus the total costs of a gas-powered vehicle.  Many EVs qualify for a $7,500 tax deduction, and in Duval County, JEA offers a rebate of up to $1,000, depending on the size of the car’s battery.

Unlike traditional gas stations, EV charging stations are usually in locations such as shopping center parking lots, hotels, garages and city streets. Owners typically use an app or their vehicle’s navigation system to find the nearest station and then use their smartphones or credit card to start a charging session.

- WUSF's Bradley George contributed to this story.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.