Council considers gradual switch to an electric fleet
By Chadwick Dolgos
A plan to transition all fuel-powered Crafton borough vehicles to electric was presented to council Feb. 11 by President Phillip Levasseur.
The proposed effort is part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s “Driving PA Forward” funding program that seeks to improve Pennsylvania’s air quality by investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state.
Duquesne Light is offering a grant that will cover up to 50% of the infrastructure needed to support a transition to electric vehicles in the borough, including the charging system and the electrical and engineering work needed for installation.
Completely electrifying all operating borough vehicles will not happen overnight, however, and the borough is encouraged to continue purchasing fuel-powered vehicles as needed.
“I spoke with a representative from Duquesne Light and they said it’s safe to continue pursuing current fuel types we have,” Levasseur said. “Electric vehicles, including even the police cruisers, will not be moving to electrification by the end of the decade.”
Public works vehicles and police cruisers are more difficult to electrify because of the vast amount of power required for them to operate. Public works vehicles are often involved in heavy-duty hauling, while police cruisers utilize computer systems powered by the vehicle.
Duquesne Light recommended to the council to consider starting with electrifying their code enforcement vehicle, or any other borough vehicle that does not require heavy power loads.
“The code enforcement vehicle could be an item that we try using as a pilot here over the next couple of years,” said Levasseur.
“It doesn’t have to be this year or the next year, but it’s something to consider.”
Members of the council present during Levasseur’s proposal made no comment during his presentation.
In addition to investing in electrifying borough vehicles, Duquesne Light is working closely with individuals interested in installing personal charging stations at their homes. According to Duquesne Light’s website, they offer a $60 credit for simply informing them you own or lease an electric vehicle.
“If you are going to be a commuter using Crafton as your home base, you can have the proper equipment installed and they can help you along with the process,” said Levasseur.
Within the next 20 years, Duquesne Light anticipates electric vehicle purchases to exceed 100,000 in their service territory. Currently, there are less than 4,000 known electric-powered vehicles being utilized.
Duquesne Light is leading by example.
To date, the utility company currently operates nine electric sedans, six plug-in hybrid bucket trucks and four electric forklifts. By 2030, the utility company plans to have 30% of its fleet electrified.