Pittsburgh is using a quarter-million dollars in state grants to launch its effort to have a fossil-free vehicle fleet but 2030.
The funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Alternative Fuels Grant program must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the city.
The first grant is worth $80,000 and will be used to purchase as many as 10 electric vehicles.
“We get a 50 percent reimbursement for incremental costs,” said Pittsburgh Fixed Assets manager Slim Forsythe. "The incremental cost is the difference between what a conventional [Ford] Focus, for example, costs versus what an electric vehicle Ford Focus costs.”
He said that difference is $6,000 to $8,000, depending on the make of vehicle. The city has already ordered two of the Fords and a pair of Chevy Bolts. According to Forsythe, two of the cars will be added to the general city motor pool and the other two will be assigned to public works.
All four cars will be parked at a small city lot along Second Avenue, under the Liberty Bridge, where four electric charging stations have been installed.
Half of the $30,000 cost of purchasing and installing those stations was covered by the second DEP Grant awarded to the city. That grant totals $175,000 and must be used for charging infrastructure.
Forsyth said the remainder will be used to purchase five solar powered portable charging stations that can fuel two or three cars at a time.
“We want to be driving on sunshine,” said Forsyth. “We don’t want to be just driving on electricity that’s made from the existing coal and nuclear mix.”
Each of those chargers will cost roughly $70,000, with the city covering half the cost.
DEP Energy Program Specialist Josh Dziubek said the department requires monthly reports from Pittsburgh on how the funds are being spent with a final report due when the project is complete.
The city expects to have the funds fully spent by the end of 2018.