City of Pittsburgh wants to be Fossil Fuel Free by 2030

Mobile, EV charger
One of the five new mobile, solar-powered EV chargers that the City of Pittsburgh has put into use.

The City of Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan 3.0, the latest in a series of city plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and tackle climate change, establishes several goals for 2030. It sets the goal of reducing the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent (from a 2003 baseline) by 2023; by 50 percent by 2030; and by 80 percent by 2050. The plan also proposes that by 2030, City of Pittsburgh governmental operations will run on 100 percent renewable electricity, with a vehicle fleet completely free of fossil fuels.

Specifically, the city government will attempt to rely on 100 percent renewable energy, switch to a vehicle fleet that’s free of fossil fuel and divest from fossil-fuel companies, according to the advisory plan. Citywide objectives include a 50 percent reduction in transportation-related emissions.

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The current draft credits some 150 local nonprofits, businesses, neighborhood stakeholders and other entities with input. “That’s a big change from prior versions, which relied heavily on a handful of civic and business leaders,” says Lindsay Baxter, program manager for energy and climate for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

Envision Solar EV chargers
The new solar-powered, mobile, EV chargers from Envision Solar in San Diego.

Guiding the process was the Department of City Planning’s Division of Sustainability and Resilience. Grant Ervin, the city’s chief resilience officer, says Climate Action Plan Version 3.0 also goes further in offering an holistic sustainability strategy for Pittsburgh, one that shows how energy generation, transportation, housing and even the food system can work together to reduce pollution.

On April 11, 2018, Mayor Bill Peduto dedicated the arrival of five solar-powered charging units for the city’s small but growing electric vehicle fleet. “By 2030, our city government will operate 100 percent on renewable energy,” the mayor told a crowd assembled at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s lot on Second Avenue where the chargers are located. “That means we’re going to be taking steps every year in order to meet that goal. This is a big first step as we start to look at the conversion of our fleet. These cars run on sunshine.”

Pittsburgh Volts
Two of the Chevrolet Volts that the city acquired, shown at the new mobile, solar-powered charging stations.

Pittsburgh purchased the chargers for $420,000 from San Diego-based Envision Solar. A state grant is funding half of the purchase. They are mobile and can be moved to other locations as a power source in the event of an emergency.

Last year the city bought four battery operated electric vehicles (two Ford Focuses and two Chevrolet Bolts) for a total $121,556 and has received six more for a total of ten, according to Chuck O’Neill, a senior manager in the Office of Management and Budget.

City lot chargers
Kevin Forsythe shows the new city chargers that are located at the city motor pool lot on 2nd Avenue. He noted that it takes about 9 hours to fully charge an EV that is on empty, and the vehicles can then run for 180-200 miles on a full charge.

They also installed four charging stations at the city motor pool lot on Second Avenue. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in April 2017 awarded Pittsburgh two Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants (AFIG) totaling $255,000 to help cover costs. DEP is paying half of the cost of the charging stations and half of the difference between the price of a gasoline-powered auto and an electric vehicle.

The City plans to establish the Pittsburgh Electrification Partnership with the local Clean Cities chapter, local electric utility Duquesne Light, local government fleets and taxi, hospital, university, corporate and rental car fleets.

The Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities (PRCC) chapter has installed charging infrastructure in several places including the Pittsburgh International Airport and in the City of Pittsburgh along the Energy 376 corridor (83 chargers). The City of Pittsburgh helped connect the PRCC with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA) that operates 35 parking enforcement sedans. The PRCC collaborated with the PPA to use an additional AFIG grant funding to install 15 level two chargers in the PPA’s 1st Avenue garage that will serve the public during the day and will charge the PPA’s electric sedans at night.

Level 2 chargers in 1st Ave garage
A photo of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s (PPA) 15 Level 2 chargers that are in the 1st Avenue garage that will serve the public during the day and will charge the PPA’s 35 parking enforcement electric sedans at night.

PRCC and the City of Pittsburgh are members of the Drive Electric Pennsylvania Coalition (DEPA) which works to educate and promote the use of electric vehicles. “We will continue to pursue the use of more electric vehicles across the state and in our region” says Rick Price, Executive Director of PRCC.

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  1. For over a year in 2018 and 2019 I tried unsuccessfully to charge my E Bicycle downtown Pittsburgh. All that was needed was a regular 110v wall plug. 🙁 Some progress.


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