Peduto Talks to President Obama About Making Big Changes for the Steel City

Mar 18, 2015

Mayor Bill Peduto recently traveled to DC for the National League of Cities and while there, he had a chance to meet with the President for two minutes. The Mayor told 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh Host, Paul Guggenheimer, he wanted to make those minutes count, so he brought up two ideas for the city: autonomous cars, and localized energy.

Peduto told the President that Pittsburgh is the city for the autonomous car. With CMU’s research facilities, Uber’s dedication to developing the car, and Bombardier’s vehicle plant, Pittsburgh is the place to develop the technology.

“I just wanted to get it on the president’s radar, because when this decision gets made and were competing against Boston or we’re competing against Silicon Valley competing against Detroit or anywhere else, I want a heads up on it, and I want the ability to be out of the gate first, and be the city that can make it happen,” said Peduto.

Peduto said his administration is also willing to open up the streets to make it happen.

The Mayor made sure to get the President’s reaction on another idea, which is seen by some to be radical-- localized energy. He said power plants burning fossil fuels are a thing of the past, and buildings should be producing their own energy.

“So why not start now? Why wait,” said Peduto, “as we’re developing that 28 acres in the hill district, I want to see that entire development done by producing energy on site.”   

The Mayor said he has similar ideas for the Almono site in Hazelwood, and the Strip District, to create the largest contiguous off the grid area in the world.

When he presented the ideas, President Obama’s eyes lit up, according to Peduto.  

Peduto says the Department of Energy is sitting on $40 million in unused funds from the stimulus package, and he hopes that some of that money could go towards his plans.

“Let’s make Pittsburgh the world leader. Let’s build the world headquarters for those types of things right here, and then let’s see what happens, and we got 20 months behind this administration to see if we can get some traction behind it,” said Peduto.