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A unique partnership between NETL and the City of Pittsburgh supports the development of energy districts designed to meet the energy needs of individual neighborhoods using highly efficient and cost-effective technologies.

In 2015, NETL and Pittsburgh leaders signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to transform the city’s energy system and aging infrastructure by implementing a “grid of microgrids” concept that spanned nine energy districts.

“Since then, the partnership has grown and enabled city officials and developers to take advantage of local resources and infrastructure, as well as NETL-supported technologies, to develop systems that are the future of energy,” said James Ferguson, NETL’s State & Local Partnerships manager.

Many of the advancements made under the MOU are highlighted in an updated City of Pittsburgh Energy Districts Map. It includes information about today’s 10 districts across Pittsburgh that are operating, planned or under development to supply local residents, businesses and institutions with clean, reliable and affordable power.

The map includes information about how several districts are using fossil fuel resources with enhanced efficiency to operate a network of small-scale distributed energy systems. It also details recent efforts such as a hydroelectric plant on the Allegheny River to generate electricity for the University of Pittsburgh and the development of Hazelwood Green, a former steel mill site that has been transformed into a center of innovation that operates almost exclusively on renewable-based distributed energy.
NETL continues to work with the City of Pittsburgh and partners, including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Clearway Energy and Duquesne Light, on projects that support the network.
“Rather than relying on a centralized grid supplied by distant facilities, these systems can operate independently or in conjunction with the main electrical grid and incorporate a diverse mix of energy sources, including advanced energy technologies pioneered by NETL and other national laboratories,” Ferguson said. “NETL envisions that this collaboration can serve as a model for other partnerships between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and cities.”
NETL also released an infographic that focuses on its partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and other local collaborators. The infographic highlights priorities to be pursued moving forward and the positive impact of several significant programs, including the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.
The IWG has designated much of western Pennsylvania and nearby areas in West Virginia and Ohio as among the nation’s 25 coal and power plant communities at greatest risk of experiencing severe economic downturns due to the decarbonization of the energy sector. This designation positions Pittsburgh as a hub to create clean energy technologies to generate economic growth.
The NETL-City of Pittsburgh MOU will be among the topics presented by the Lab at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, which DOE and CMU will host in Pittsburgh from Sept. 21-23. Energy and science ministers from 31 counties will participate, as well as U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, John Kerry, the first U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and NETL Director Brian Anderson.
A second opportunity to showcase the NETL-City of Pittsburgh MOU to an international audience will occur when the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit is held in Pittsburgh Sept. 28-30.
For more information, visit the NETL-City of Pittsburgh MOU website, which was recently updated to take a deeper look into the individual projects that are supported under the agreement.
NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.
 
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