Electric vehicle owners now have six parking spots at The Terminal building in the Strip District where they can charge their cars for free, thanks to the help of federal funding.
Well, almost free. The six chargers are located in a parking lot behind the renovated Terminal building that costs money to park in after the first 30 minutes.
A spokesperson for the development company McCaffery Inc. said at a media event Friday that the company applied for and received $24,000 from the state of Pennsylvania, through the federal infrastructure act, to help pay for installation of the new high speed charging infrastructure. It cost McCaffery $36,000 to install the charging infrastructure and it spent another $27,000 on buying the chargers. The state award was part of $36 million in federal funding for the state designated for building more electric vehicle charging stations.
“McCaffrey Inc. made an investment in helping change our city to accommodate the future needs of E-vehicles,” said Tom Pratt, a spokesperson for the local IBEW union that installed the chargers. “EV owners can come here for entertainment, shopping, dinner, exercise, just to name a few,” he said.
Although the majority of electric vehicle charging happens at home, one of the main concerns of new or potential electric vehicle drivers is being stranded on a long trip — what’s called “range anxiety.” And for any of the more than 66,000 Pennsylvanians who own an electric vehicle and are passing through Pittsburgh, this gives them another spot where they can charge quickly before heading on their way. Fred Kraybill, an electric vehicle enthusiast who volunteers with PennFuture, said that he has more than a dozen options of places to charge now on his way to visit family in Lancaster.
“Goodbye range anxiety,” Kraybill said. “I think we can say that soon.”
Starting in 2024, Kraybill said, people who buy certain American-made electric vehicles will be able to receive a $7,500 discount at the time of purchase. Right now buyers have to wait to receive the discount on their tax returns and not everyone pays enough in taxes to receive the full discount. Kraybill hopes that will increase the percentage of electric vehicles bought in the U.S. from about 6% now. Pennsylvania electric vehicle buyers below certain income thresholds are also eligible for an additional $2,000 tax rebate.
Mayor Ed Gainey was scheduled to speak at the event but instead issued a statement. Gainey said, in part thanks to the federal Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the city now owns 88 electric vehicles and 78 electric vehicle charging stations, with eight additional stations coming online this year.
Annie Regan, the campaigns director for PennFuture, said electric vehicles will provide economic benefits to their owners but that everyone in the state will benefit from the decrease in pollution. “This is especially crucial here in Pittsburgh, where we are consistently ranked as one of the worst cities,” she said.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Dan Miller, who represents several suburbs in the South Hills, said it was important to note that the new chargers were installed and made with union labor and he hopes that the work that comes from the federal funding continues to be done with a large percentage of union labor.
Kraybill said that EV owners like him not only save on fuel costs but on maintenance. “You will never have to replace a muffler, a catalytic converter, muffler pipes, spark plugs, oil filter engine oil, radiator, water pump, radiator hoses, transmission, air filter, you will never have to do oil changes with an electric car,” he said.