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Miami-Dade County, Fla., Invests in EV Charging Stations

The county unveiled a new electric car charging station in a county-owned garage, one of five in a new partnership with OBE Energy, which runs the second-largest private charging station fleet in the state after Tesla.

electric vehicles
(TNS) — The electric vehicle market is booming in Florida, and Miami-Dade County is getting in on the action.

Thursday morning, the county unveiled a new electric car charging station in a county-owned garage, one of five in a new partnership with OBE Energy, which runs the second-largest private charging station fleet in the state after Tesla.

“It is very exciting to finally see our electric vehicle market in a place where it can finally compete,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a crowd gathered in the west lot garage across the street from Government Center in Downtown Miami.

She also announced that the county recently purchased another 42 electric buses, bringing the total on order to 75.

“I believe we’re going to be the largest electric bus fleet in the country,” she said.

Electric vehicle sales have exploded in Florida, and Miami-Dade residents own more than any other county. State records show that as of December 2020, there were 3,907 “slow” charging stations and 844 “fast” charging stations in the state, with more to come.

Drivers who stop at the Government Center parking garage will pay 30 cents per kw/H to charge at the level two or “slow” chargers, said OBE Power CEO Alejandro Burgana. The average charge lasts about three hours and costs about $7. OBE pays the county for the electricity it uses, and Miami-Dade also gets some of the profit.

The city of Miami is also working with Florida Power & Light to install more charging stations in a handful of city parks and buildings.

“Within the next two or three years, a common headline will be that there are more EV charging stations than gas stations,” Burgana told the Miami Herald. “It’s becoming accessible.”

Miami-Dade has a new transit director. He doesn’t think you need a car in downtown Miami

When it comes to adapting to climate change, there are few technologies as popular and readily adopted by the public as electric cars. Multiple major car companies have pledged to stop selling gasoline-powered cars completely within the next decade, and plummeting battery costs, along with federal and state subsidies, have made EVs a more affordable option for many.

They’re also an important step toward electrifying transportation in Miami-Dade, where transportation makes up 55% of emissions, according to a 2019 accounting. About 40% of that total comes from gasoline-powered cars.

Miami-Dade’s draft climate action strategy calls for swapping out 30% of county resident vehicles to electric cars by 2030, and officials say adding more charging stations could help convince new drivers to shift.

That also means switching over Miami-Dade’s own fleet to electric cars — a tall order for such a large county.

Of the 11,000 cars, buses and trucks the county owns and operates, fewer than a dozen are electric. The county’s new order for electric buses would bring its total to 75, out of about 700 gasoline and natural gas-powered buses. Only one electric bus has actually arrived since the county placed its original order.

Miami-Dade’s new policy, which starts Friday, calls for 10% of all vehicle purchases this year to be electric. Another 10% gets tacked onto that figure every year, so 20% electric vehicle purchases by 2022, 30% by 2023, and so on.

Sean McCrackine, the mayor’s director of policy, estimates that the county will have purchased at least 80 electric vehicles by the end of the year with this new policy.

Of course, electric cars alone aren’t the solution for making transportation emission-free. About half of Miami-Dade households have no or limited access to a car. About 10% have no car.

That’s where public transportation comes in. Experts say the best way to cut emissions and traffic, as well as air pollution, is to get more people out of cars and into buses and trains.

On Earth Day, a flurry of plans to slash carbon emissions in Miami-Dade and Miami

Miami-Dade’s climate strategy calls for shifting 10% of residents who usually get around driving a car by themselves into public transit by 2030.

Kevin Amézaga, with the Miami Riders Alliance, said Miami-Dade has several great plans for improving public transportation, like its SMART plan and Better Bus Project, but county leaders aren’t doing the work to follow through.

“Getting people onto fast, reliable transit starts with building that fast reliable transit and actually giving them the option to use it. The county’s plans, their priorities just doesn’t align with that message,” he said. “Continued focus on electric buses is really great — in a world where we tackled the issue of getting people onto buses in the first place. Getting people out of cars is the best thing we can do.”

© 2021 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.