Municipal Fleet Vehicle Electrification and Photovoltaic Power In the City of Pittsburgh

This document reports the results of a cost benefit analysis on potential photovoltaic projects in Pittsburgh and electrifying the city’s light duty civilian vehicle fleet. Currently the city of Pittsburgh has a civilian passenger vehicle fleet of 118 vehicles traveling 718,000 miles a year. This leads to an average (5 days a week) travel of 23.4 miles per work day per vehicle. The research team used a gasoline price of range of $1.50, $2.00 and $2.50 a gallon and electric price range of 4, 6 and 10 cents per kWh. The research team found that conventional vehicles would likely cost less to operate over 15 years than electric vehicles. This is due to the increased capital costs involved in purchasing the vehicles and charging stations, as well as the amount of miles these vehicles travel per year. To account for the of impacts of vehicle electrification on emissions the research team calculated the CO₂, NOx and SO₂ emissions from both a conventional and electric fleet. For electricity emissions the research team investigated several electric grid assumptions including current regional grid average, current regional grid marginal at night, current regional grid with 30% renewable energy certificates (RECs), and a regional grid starting with 30% RECs and increasing to 100% over 15 years. The city is currently purchasing RECs for 30% of its municipal power needs. For GHG emissions, the research team found that EVs in Pittsburgh save GHGs compared to conventional gasoline vehicles in 3 of their 4 current electricity grid assumptions. As the GHG-intensity of the grid improves over the next 15 years, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have clear greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) advantages over conventional gasoline vehicles in Pittsburgh. The City of Pittsburgh has indicated if will transition to purchasing RECs for 100% of governmental energy use by 2030. While there challenges with attributing local air pollutant reductions directly to RECs on a one-to-one basis, the combination of existing and proposed EPA power plant regulations and REC purchases highly increase the likelihood of a cleaner grid profile going forward. Yet SO₂ emissions from the power sector remain problematic in a social net present cost analysis. SO₂ was the highest cost pollutant for vehicle externalities and is not emitted in significant amount from gasoline combustion. Because of the SO₂ emissions, vehicle electrification was also found to be likely to have higher total social emissions costs than gasoline options under most cases. A faster reduction in power plant air emissions improves the outlook for electrification. One way of offsetting these emissions is to ensure that a portion of the needed electricity is generated from renewable or low-emission sources. Photovoltaic (PV) generation is one possible renewable source to consider for distributed generation in an urban region. One potential location for PV cells would be on city-owned parking facilities. Canopies could be built over city-owned surface lots or on the tops of city-owned garages. Currently the Pittsburgh Parking Authority maintains 10 downtown parking garages, with parking on the roofs, and 1 unshaded downtown surface level lot. The total surface area of these garages’ roofs and the lot was found to be approximately 52,000 square meters. The research team estimated a peak capacity of about 6,000 kW of PV is possible on these facilities. The amount of electricity potentially generated from these PV systems could power between 24 and 27 million miles of electric vehicle travel per year, which is more than 30 times the yearly travel of the city’s civilian passenger vehicle fleet. The PV systems were found to have positive net present values, including the value of decreased pollution, only under best case assumptions. If the city of Pittsburgh wanted to create an emergency refueling and logistics center, it would require several sources of distributed energy to enhance resiliency. If PV were included on a municipal energy emergency center, the panels could be utilized everyday, not solely in emergencies. Using the 2nd Avenue location as an example the research team found that an emergency center could generate nearly 60,000 EV miles worth of electricity, on the peak day. In terms of the BEV’s 23 kWh Battery capacity, that would be nearly 800 full cycles. On the worst day, however, it would only generate 1,500 miles or 66.5 BEV battery cycles worth of charge.