CONSOL Energy vice president of research and development Steve Winberg gets ready to charge the first electric vehicle at the company's new charging station at their Southpointe headquarters, introduced as part of the company's "Declaration of Energy Independence" celebration. It is one of 35 Level II electric vehicle charging stations installed by the Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities Coalition. (Photo: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)
Just days before our nation celebrates the 237th anniversary of our freedom from the British, CONSOL Energy celebrated their own independence.
The aptly titled “Declaration of Energy Independence” was held at the coal and natural gas producer’s headquarters in Southpointe and included the unveiling of a new Level II 240 volt Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charger for electric and hybrid vehicles, along with a number of alternative fuel-powered sedans and trucks from U.S. carmaker GMC.
The electric plugin vehicle charger was made by Ohio-based Eaton Corporation, which has divisions in Moon, Beaver and Pitcairn.
“The installation of the EV charging station underscores the important role that our region’s abundant natural resources – both the recently found unconventional natural gas potential and our vast supplies of coal – play in supporting American energy security and independence,” said Steve Winberg, vice president of research and development at CONSOL Energy. The station will be available for use at any time by all CONSOL Energy employees.
The energy giant also purchased a Chevrolet Volt, which was refueled by the new EVSE charger before the crowd during the event. Mr. Winberg later stated that the Volt will serve as the flagship electric vehicle in CONSOL’s corporate fleet.
CONSOL Energy, one of the region’s largest energy companies, has staked its claim in the plentiful resources of Pennsylvania’s shale natural gas. Though some see the recent shale oil and gas boom as a detrimental threat to our environment, others see it as a way to wean off of our reliance on oil from across the globe, including the volatile Middle East.
“Alternative fuel vehicles, including both electric and natural gas vehicles, offer this region and our country the opportunity to develop and utilize our abundant natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner while decreasing our dependence on foreign sources of energy,” said Mr. Winberg.
“As southwest Pennsylvania continues to transition from industrial to post-industrial economy, the region has continued to embrace its burgeoning environmental and alternative energy initiatives,” said Rick Price, the executive director of Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, a nonprofit that promotes the use of alternative fuels.
PRCC has played a pivotal role in installing the EVSE chargers across Pennsylvania and surrounding states as part of the “Energy 376 Corridor” project, funded by a series of Alternate Fuels Innovation Grant (AFIG) grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
“The Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities Coalition has presently installed over 35 Level II electric vehicle charging stations, including the one at CONSOL’s headquarters,” said Mr. Price.
The nonprofit has helped provide the region with one of the largest charging station networks in the country; its continued growth can be seen with the installation of new charging stations coming to New Stanton and Oakmont this summer.
Yet, Mr. Price also recognized that Pittsburgh’s proximity to the Marcellus Shale and nearby Utica Shale offers it a chance to be an early adopter of the latest CNG technology. “There remains vastly untapped opportunity to utilize local resources…” he said.