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City signs MOU with Dept. of Energy on energy infrastructure


Mayor William Peduto has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Energy Technology Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy on joint efforts to design 21st Century energy infrastructure for Pittsburgh.

Mayor Peduto and NETL Director Grace Bochenek signed the memorandum at an event with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.

“This agreement establishes a new working relationship to upgrade Pittsburgh’s aging electrical grid with 21st century technologies and solutions. This link between NETL and the city will position Pittsburgh to lead the nation in next-generation energy strategies and to build one of the largest integrated district energy ecosystems in North America. Today at the Energy Innovation Center we saw the possibilities for Pittsburgh to be a leader in new energy technologies, and this agreement will only help accelerate their development,” Secretary Moniz said.

“You don’t have to look very far to see that much of our nation’s infrastructure is old and in poor repair. That’s true for our energy infrastructure as well – in fact, many of our power lines and gas pipes are literally antiques! What’s more, while these energy systems have served us well for decades, they’re terribly inefficient, and that means we’re producing more pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than we need to,” said Congressman Doyle.

“We’ve made a lot of technological advances since those systems were originally designed and installed, and I think it’s essential for our nation to develop and adopt innovative new models for meeting our energy needs in a more efficient, economical, and environmentally sustainable way.

“With our aging infrastructure and our many local leaders in advanced technology, Pittsburgh is a logical place to develop and test potential improvements over the current model for energy production and distribution. This Memorandum of Understanding is an exciting first step in what could be a major paradigm shift in the way we make and use energy – and it could make Pittsburgh a leader in this important emerging field,” the Congressman continued.

The partnership arose from a meeting Mayor Peduto called in May of this year with representatives from the Department of Energy, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office, NRG Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the Heinz Endowments, R.K. Mellon Foundation and others to pursue ways to make long-term improvements to the city’s energy infrastructure systems.

The MOU text says it “will serve to position Pittsburgh as a demonstrated national and global leader in new technology development and demonstration and application of strategic models. The outcomes of this MOU will help modernize delivery of utility services through new business models and markets, grow technology research and development opportunities and product manufacturing, reduce environmental impacts, enhance resilience and security through integrated district-based microgrid solutions, address affordability for consumers, and encourage workforce development.”

Municipalities across the United States are facing issues with their aging electric and gas lines and other energy infrastructure, and studies show that 60 percent of the energy moved along such lines is lost during transmission. To address that cities such as Pittsburgh are looking to develop energy infrastructure on a smaller district scale that optimizes delivery, creates resiliency in the grid system and minimizes disruption. District scale energy also delivers cleaner and more efficient energy to customers and benefits economic development.

The MOU will assist local universities in researching and developing energy solutions; support energy-related businesses in Pittsburgh and those seeking to relocate to the city; and will create the foundation to integrate 21st Century energy technology and infrastructure into large-scale developments in Hazelwood, the Lower Hill District and Uptown. And it gives the city the opportunity to build on existing systems like Duquesne University’s Combined Heat and Power facility, and modernize others such as Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal (PACT) and others in Oakland and the North Side.

The agreement with NETL and DOE builds upon the U.S. Department of Commerce designation of Pittsburgh as an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership region. Like the IMCP designation, today’s action will help leverage local research and development work, manufacturing resources, job training and other assets to deploy the latest in energy innovation.

“Pittsburgh is gaining a global reputation as an urban lab with the resources and know-how to pursue innovation that helps us all, from workers seeking job training to families seeking clean water to businesses offering cutting-edge products and services. We could never have accomplished that without great partners, and I’m happy that NETL and DOE are the latest to join with us,” Mayor Peduto said.

The MOU lays out the following goals:

• Crafting a strategic plan that does the following: a) assists in the identification, decision support, and adoption of district energy strategies, including the development, demonstration, and deployment of next generation energy solutions and electric power delivery technologies; and b) supplies near-, mid-, and long-term guidance for public and private audiences on the development of district scale clean energy and grid design strategies, with a focus on combined heat and power and distributed energy resources;

• Identifying the appropriate financial mechanism to provide a catalyst and underwrite investment in the design and construction for district energy systems, adoption of monitoring and automation technologies, advanced intelligent infrastructure, and renewable energy deployment.

• Designing a policy plan that supports the development of municipal, utility and regulatory needs for district energy applications and infrastructure modernization;

• Conducting economic analysis that presents cost/benefits of district energy solutions with micro-grid integration and building performance policies;

• Accelerating the growth of and access to energy jobs;

• Forming a technical team to explore Pittsburgh’s efforts; and

• Preparing a technology research and development roadmap for rapid demonstration and deployment.

A power point presentation on Pittsburgh district energy resources and opportunities is available at


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