Pittsburgh Mayor, Western PA Energy Consortium Win U.S. Conference Of Mayors Climate Protection Award
The U.S. Conference Of Mayors recognized Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and the Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium with its First Place Mayors’ Climate Protection Award for Climate Protection Best Practices.
The Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium (WPEC) is an innovative electricity collaborative purchasing platform led by the City of Pittsburgh since 2008.
"The really exciting part of the Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium is that it has brought together a critical mass of energy users to reshape our region's energy future," said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. "This broad partnership saves money for our taxpayers, creates local clean energy jobs and reduces our carbon use, today and into the future."
WPEC was established to reduce costs for its members by aggregating purchasing power from the large electricity load of all members’ annual consumption.
Currently, WPEC consists of 32 members, including some of Pittsburgh’s largest authorities, and has a total annual electricity consumption of 160 gigawatt hours.
With each procurement cycle, WPEC members had been able to slowly increase the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs), but in 2020 the purchase of RECs increased from 35 percent to 100 percent.
This allowed the City to meet its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, ten years ahead of schedule in 2020.
In addition to the success of fulfilling climate targets, this purchase saved $700,000 this year for the 30+ participants ($100,000 saved by the City of Pittsburgh alone).
Initially created as a cost saving tool, this initiative was identified as a key mechanism through which the City of Pittsburgh could achieve ambitious climate and energy goals.
Through its purchasing power, WPEC allows its members to more easily incorporate renewable electricity sources while still keeping costs low.
It also serves as a platform for knowledge sharing to help meet other goals such as 50 percent energy use reduction and installation of on-site renewables.
One of the greatest challenges arose as WPEC transitioned from its focus on lowest price point, to incorporating additional criteria such as carbon emissions, project location, and social responsibility metrics into the procurement evaluations.
To help with this transition, the City hosted multiple workshops to align priorities and educated members on the basics of renewable electricity.
Through the purchase of these renewable energy credits, this consortium has already offset nearly 43,000 metric tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) equivalent.
Few projects are able to have the breadth and depth of impact that this single initiative has achieved, proving that we can do more by working together.
Aggregating the purchasing power of WPEC members has helped achieve ambitious climate goals, reduce operating costs, facilitate growth of the local renewable energy market, and create a cohort of municipalities and organizations collaborating to achieve common goals.
This consortium is able to operate with limited financing.
Its members do not incur additional costs, but rather leverage existing utility budgets towards more climate-friendly sources of energy.
This program has quantifiably improved the quality of life in the city, especially in addressing air pollution and its adverse health impacts. Pittsburgh’s poor air quality is a direct result of fossil fuel-powered energy generation in the region.
With extended periods of poor air quality and a growing number of inversion events (when warm air traps cold air and pollution at the surface, causing super pollution events),
Pittsburgh has one of the nation’s highest rates of childhood asthma and asthma-related hospitalizations.
Because of the strong correlation between energy generation and air quality in Pittsburgh, an ACEEE report found that a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption would create a $200/person annual healthcare cost savings.
Increasing the amount of local renewable energy directly and positively affects human health and quality of life.
Through the purchase of these renewable energy credits, this consortium has already o#set nearly 43,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
Few projects are able to have the breadth and depth of impact that this single initiative has achieved. It has helped achieve ambitious climate goals, reduce operating costs, facilitate growth of the local renewable energy market, and create a cohort of municipalities and organizations collaborating to achieve common goals.
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[Posted: December 19, 2020]
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