A car charging in the Farrington parking lot on Oct. 2. Pennsylvania was awarded with $25.4 million to invest in clean transportation and electric vehicle infrastructure. (Nahjiah Miller/B&W Staff)

Pennsylvania is getting ‘charged up’ about clean transportation


The Biden Administration awarded Pennsylvania $25.4 million to invest in clean transportation and electric vehicle infrastructure. 

The federal funding is provided as part of the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Pennsylvania is one of the first states to receive this funding from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program. The program will provide Pennsylvania with more than $170 million over the next five years.

The plan recommends the installation of at least 5,000 new EV charging ports at 2,000 sites in Pennsylvania by 2028 using partnerships with private sector institutions and funding from the new law.

“These funds may be used for installation and operation of EV chargers, the installation of traffic control devices used to provide directional information, signage, development phase activities and mapping,” said Alexis Campbell, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). 

According to a PennDOT press release, there are more than 31,000 electric vehicles registered in Pennsylvania. This number is rapidly growing and is expected to continue rising. In March of 2019, there were only 9,700 electric vehicles registered in Pennsylvania. 

PennDOT is planning to build Alternative Fuel Corridors in the Lehigh Valley along Interstate 78, Interstate 476 and Interstate 80. 

“PennDOT has been doing a great deal of work in support of a future filled with electric vehicles, including our EV equity guiding principles and transition of our own passenger vehicle fleet,” Campbell said. 

Courtesy of Carl Freyer (B&W Staff)

At Lehigh, there are four Chargepoint EV charging stations — each with two charging ports. Charging stations can be found on the first level of the Alumni Building Parking Pavilion, Farrington Square parking garage and Zoellner Arts Center parking garage. There is also a charging station on the Mountaintop Campus at the Iacocca Hall north parking lot. 

“We try our best to encourage the use of electric cars,” Brett Johnson, manager of Parking Services said. “Offering the ability to charge on campus is the best way for us to do this, as it could be the determining factor for someone trying to make a decision on the next vehicle they purchase or lease.”

Johnson said there is also rate-based incentivization for those with electric vehicles on campus.

According to Lehigh’s Parking Regulations updated Sept. 28, Lehigh faculty, staff, students and vendors with a valid Lehigh parking permit get the first four hours of a charging session for free, with a rate of $2 per hour thereafter. For non-Lehigh parking permit holders, the rate is $1 per hour for the first four hours and then $2 per hour thereafter. 

Lehigh also has one electric bus that runs every day on the Packer Express Route. 

“We also use it for special events, such as home football games and events on campus, as the bus is equipped with a bike rack and (is) ADA accessible for passengers who require assistance,” said Bob Bruneio, manager of Lehigh’s Transportation Services. “The bus has a ramp and wheelchair lockdown equipment.”

Lehigh’s Climate Action Strategy calls for a transition to electric buses. 

We are planning to make this transition over time because electric buses are very expensive,” said Mark Ironside, assistant vice president of business services at Lehigh. “We will work from both the philanthropic angle, as well as to identify grants and university resources, as we move in this important direction.”

They are also planning to include new electric charging stations on all three campuses. Ironside said Lehigh received funding from the state for the current charging stations. 

He said business services welcomes student input on the locations that will best suit the community needs.

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