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Pittsburgh powers up small electric vehicle fleet with solar charging stations |

Pittsburgh powers up small electric vehicle fleet with solar charging stations

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018 5:06 p.m

Pittsburgh is driving on sunshine and has the song lyrics to prove it.

Mayor Bill Peduto on Wednesday dedicated the arrival of five solar-powered charging machines for the city’s small but growing electric vehicle fleet with a performance by Lawrenceville-based musician Kevin “Slim” Forsythe and the band Turbosonics. One of the charging stations powered the band’s amplifiers.

Forsythe, who retired as Pittsburgh’s fixed asset manager in December and worked on procuring the vehicle chargers before he left, penned the lyrics to “We’re Gonna Drive on Sunshine” when he heard the equipment had arrived.

I wanna tell you all a story ’bout a City with a Mayor named Bill

He was a straight-shootin’ son of a gun from out by Squirrel Hill

(a little place called Point Breeze)

One day the President said: “Paris got it all wrong!”

Old Bill stood up and said: “Now, wait a minute, Don …”

You can’t turn back Time. We’re Gonna Drive on Sunshine!'”

Peduto said the chargers are another step toward his promise of Pittsburgh having a fossil fuel-free fleet by 2030.

“By 2030, our city government will operate 100 percent on renewable energy,” the mayor told a crowd assembled at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s lot on Second Avenue where the chargers are located. “That means we’re going to be taking steps every year in order to meet that goal. This is a big first step as we start to look at the conversion of our fleet. These cars run on sunshine.”

Pittsburgh purchased the chargers for $420,000 from San Diego-based Envision Solar.

A state grant is funding half of the purchase. They are mobile and can be moved to other locations as a power source in the event of an emergency.

The city last year bought four battery-operated Chevrolet Bolts for a total $121,556 and has six more on order, according to Chuck O’Neill, a senior manager in the Office of Management and Budget.

It takes about nine hours to fully charge one car that’s on empty, he said. The vehicles can run for 180 to 200 miles on a full charge.

Peduto said Forsythe’s song was a bonus.

“That was my introduction to the song,” Peduto said. “I thought they were going to play “Walking on Sunshine” or something. I didn’t have any idea that Slim would have taken the effort to actually write a song for this wonderful occasion.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Slim Forsythe and the Turbosonics plugged into a solar-powered car charging station Wednesday, April 18, 2018, to perform “We’re Gonna Drive on Sunshine' during a news conference organized by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's office.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
One of Pittsburgh’s new solar-powered charging stations powers up one of the city’s four battery-operated Chevrolet Bolts.
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