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Development & Transportation

Millions of Dollars Handed Out for Alternative Fuel Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is giving out more than $4.4 million in Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants. The money will be split among 12 projects throughout the state. The projects are focused on developing the state's natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, a member organization that advocates for the reduction of petroleum use in transportation, will receive $238,467 for the Energy Corridor 376 project. That will add 45 electric vehicle charging stations along Interstate 376. That is just one part of a larger plan.

"I know the Turnpike Commission and DEP are getting ready to announce putting electric charging stations all along the rest areas along the turnpike. That creates a corridor that goes all the way from our airport to the turnpike in both directions," said Rick Price, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Region Clean cities.

The new charging stations join 9 already along 376 and are expected to displace an estimated 79,463 gallons of fuel per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cranberry Taxi Inc./Veterans Taxi is getting $269,000 to buy and deploy 25 new compressed natural gas taxis that will provide service throughout Allegheny and Butler Counties. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will get $500,000 to replace 20 diesel-fueled shuttle buses with 20 natural gas powered buses.

The ultimate goal, said Price, is to reduce dependence on petroleum for transportation and take advantage of electricity, biodiesel and natural gas. He added when more vehicles make the switch, they'll also be able to take advantage of special corridors.

"This started out as a corridor for electricity but we want to make this corridor for all alternative fuels and technologies," said Price.

Officials hope to eventually expand the corridor beyond 376.

Statewide 350 Green LLC will receive $450,000 for the development of the state's electric vehicle infrastructure. That will include the construction of 20 Level III fast-charging stations, which would allow a vehicle to charge in about a half hour, and 72 charging stations. The exact locations of those stations is still being worked out.