JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax monitors gas prices across the area so drivers are prepared before they get on the road. But some local drivers are not concerned about the cost of filling up because they are plugging in instead. Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes looked at the increase of drivers going electric in Jacksonville and how JEA is working to meet the demand.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy, as of July 2023, there were nearly 168,000 electric vehicles registered in Florida, the second highest in the nation behind California. JEA estimates nearly 9,000 electric and plug-in hybrids are in Jacksonville. Resident Jon Curran made the leap to a Tesla Model 3 last year and says his days of driving a gas-powered car are in the rearview. Curran said, “There’s no comparison. There’s no comparison to the performance, the luxury as far as the autopilot. The value that I put on that is there’s no, there’s no price.”

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

Dave McKee is JEA’s Electrification Program Manager. He said the utility has worked to stay ahead of the increased demand on the power grid from more electric vehicles on local roads. McKee said, “When new devices come to market that require electric power, we have to interpret that in terms of the effects on the grid.”

JEA has an entire webpage devoted to driving electric including where you can buy EVs. The site also has information on rebates from federal tax credits to JEA’s own programs. The utility offers a $300 rebate for EV drivers who want to install a home charger. Those who already have one can get paid $7 a month for charging during off-peak hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. McKee said EV drivers who charge during off-peak times could potentially benefit all JEA customers.

RELATED STORY: Boost in solar energy and electric vehicle sales gives hope for climate goals, report says

McKee said, “So, the whole idea is to use the energy in a smart way, to charge the cars when nobody else is really using the electric system, when there’s excess energy on there --- and then that lowers the cost for everybody.”

A spokesperson for JEA said it has paid out more than $46,000 since the off-peak charging rebate program launched in October 2022. While EVs are growing in popularity, there is still a lot of skepticism. McKee said people have questions about overall costs.

McKee said, “The amount for electric fuel is much less like 25% of what it would be for the gasoline alternative. So the vehicles themselves are a little bit more expensive right now, but typically with a normal driving habit of around 12,000 miles per year, the difference in initial cost is overcome within two years. And so then all the fuel savings that you get for the rest of your ownership of that vehicle end up being savings to the consumer.”

Another big concern is range anxiety. That is the fear of running out of power and getting stranded with no way to charge. There are already a number of charging stations around Jacksonville and more are on the way.

RELATED STORY: Trump goes to Michigan to rail against Biden’s electric vehicle push while GOP rivals debate

The federal government is also working to improve access to EV charging. The Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes billions of dollars to build out a national network of high speed chargers along major highways and interstates.

To get a feel for what it is like to travel in an EV, three teams from our sister station in Atlanta took a road trip 300 miles to Panama City Beach, Florida to see how electric cars stack up against a gas-powered car. They tracked drive time, charging time and subtracted any food or bathroom breaks.

The gas-powered Nissan made it in 5 hours and 18 minutes using one tank of fuel. With stops to charge, the Tesla Model 3 arrived a half hour later. The Chevy Bolt took longer to charge at its stops, making the trip 7 hours and 18 minutes.

To help people get a feel for the E-V experience, JEA hosts free “Drive Electric” events featuring everything from on-site test drives with local dealerships to dozens of EV owners willing to answer questions and show off their cars. McKee said, “People stand around and chat about the benefits and whatever negatives that they’d experienced and it’s just incredibly helpful on the education and awareness front.”

RELATED STORY: More money pledged from Michigan for a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant after Ford pauses

Jon Curran offered this to people who may be on the fence, “Go take a test drive in it. That’s all I have. That’s all you have to do. And everything else that you worry about, just talk to people and they’ll tell you.”

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

In June, JEA also launched a program to help local businesses work through the process of converting their gas vehicles over to electric. You can find more information about that program by clicking here.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

mobile apps

Everything you love about wokv.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!