FLC News

NETL-Led Effort to Update Pittsburgh’s Energy Infrastructure Receives National Award

Dept. of Energy

The near zero-emission prototype fuel cell system that NETL funded. It will be tested at the NRG Energy Center. Photo courtesy of NETL.

A team of 16 people from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), DOE headquarters, and the City of Pittsburgh has been selected to receive the 2019 State and Local Economic Development Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC). The collaborative team is being honored for its work to transform Pittsburgh’s energy infrastructure and establish the Steel City as a “Clean Energy City of the Future.”

The NETL-led City of Pittsburgh Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) team was selected for the national award from applicants throughout the FLC’s network of more than 300 federal laboratories, agencies and research centers across the country. The honor will be presented to team members at an April 24 ceremony during the FLC national meeting in Orlando, Florida. The team previously received the same award from the FLC’s Mid-Atlantic Region.

City of Pittsburgh officials and NETL representatives signed the MOU on July 17, 2015, building on a long history of collaboration. The MOU aims to modernize Pittsburgh’s aging infrastructure by implementing an innovative “grid of microgrids” concept that capitalizes on five existing energy districts and the city’s unique geographic features to supply local residents with clean, reliable, and cost-effective power.

Pittsburgh has been actively engaged in economic development and clean energy initiatives that contribute to the MOU effort—including the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, which earned the city $10.9 million—with support from NETL’s team of experts. Sixteen people have been involved with the MOU work, including nine NETL federal or contractor employees, two representatives from DOE headquarters, and five City of Pittsburgh staffers as follows: 


  • James Ferguson (NETL)
  • Randy Gemmen (NETL)
  • Robert James III (NETL)
  • Ashley LeDonne (NETL)
  • Mark McKoy (NETL)
  • Dan Oryshchyn (NETL)
  • Tom Tarka (NETL)
  • Kristen Welsh (NETL)
  • Jim Wilson (NETL)
  • Hillary Bright (DOE)
  • Kate Marks (DOE)
  • Grant Ervin (City of Pittsburgh)
  • Aftyn Giles (City of Pittsburgh)
  • Rebecca Kiernan (City of Pittsburgh)
  • Ariel Lattanzi (City of Pittsburgh)
  • Sarah Yeager (City of Pittsburgh)

Two of the recipients, Bright and Lattanzi, have since moved on to positions with other organizations.

NETL has examined electricity and natural gas use across 165 square miles of the greater Pittsburgh area, funded development of a new fuel cell power plant that runs on clean natural gas, connected the city with DOE experts on combined heating and power opportunities, completed studies of geothermal energy options, and initiated a pathway assessment that evaluates the benefits of deploying different energy technologies. NETL has also connected the city with university and industry stakeholders who have invested tens of millions of dollars in groundbreaking energy endeavors that will create jobs and benefit future generations.

The innovative partnership shows that fossil fuels can play a valuable role in a clean energy future, while also demonstrating NETL’s expertise in developing cutting-edge technologies that make safe and efficient use of the nation’s abundant domestic resources. NETL is also helping cities meet the economic development and job creation needs of the 21st century to support continued growth and prosperity.

To learn more about NETL’s City of Pittsburgh MOU work, please visit https://www.netl.doe.gov/mou.

NETL is a DOE national laboratory that produces technological solutions for America’s energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries that support home-grown energy initiatives; stimulate a growing economy; and improve the health, safety and security of all Americans. Highly skilled men and women at three NETL research sites—Albany, Oregon; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—conduct a broad range of research activities that support the DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.

This press release was submitted by NETL. Contact Shelley Martin at Shelley.Martin@netl.doe.gov for questions about the NETL and City of Pittsburgh MOU.

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