Florida lawmakers recently debated on whether they should consider lifetime ownership or fuel efficiency when purchasing government vehicles.
Since the state added a vehicle buying provision in 2008, Florida focused on the greatest fuel efficiency when it comes to buying vehicles, meaning electric vehicles (EVs) have been discounted.
Sen. Jason Brodeur argued that they should consider a vehicle's lifetime ownership instead.
“We have to select them for the greatest fuel efficiency, and that we should use ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels when applicable,” Brodeur told the Senate committee Tuesday.
“That was great in 2008. However, since then, we have found that with the advent of electric cars, they don’t have a fuel efficiency metric, and so mathematically are automatically excluded from being considered. That doesn’t make much sense when we consider the life of the vehicle.”
As a result, Brodeur sponsored the SB 284 bill which adjusts the requirements for purchasing public-owned vehicles at state agencies, universities, colleges, and local governments.
The bill passed in Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability committee on February 21.
According to SB 284, it will:
- Exempt certain components and labor used for EV conversion from sales tax;
- Revise the selection criteria for purchasing or leasing vehicles for state agencies, state universities, community colleges, and local governments under a state purchasing plan;
- Delete a provision requiring the use and procurement of ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels;
- Before a specified date, require the Department of Management Services to make recommendations to state agencies, state universities, community colleges, and local governments relating to the procurement and integration of electric and natural gas fuel vehicles, etc.
The bill will go into effect on July 1.
Keeping Natural Gas Vehicles for Now
During the debate, Sierra Club Florida lobbyist David Cullen argued to remove natural gas vehicles completely from the DMS recommendations.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, depending on the vehicles, “natural gas reduces some engine emissions,” while all EVs are zero-emission.
In the end, Brodeur stated natural gas vehicles still release significantly fewer emissions compared to diesel-fuel engines.
Cullen’s suggested amendment was rejected by the committee.
Brodeur said during the debate, “Right now, we know that natural gas vehicles are cheaper, cleaner, easier than the regular internal combustion engines that we are requiring today.”