Downtown Heating System Falling Apart

Private Company Could Purchase PACT

Joe DeStio
February 27, 2020 - 3:41 pm
Downtown Pittsburgh



PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - City officials and Downtown building owners agree the more than 100 year old system of underground pipes and boilers for heating more than 50 buildings is falling apart. They have yet to agree on what to do about it.

Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal or PACT was formed in the 1980's to operate the system. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says it hasn't been maintained properly.

"It's an efficient model. It simply was not invested in for decades and it's gotten to the point where it can't even be repaired ...," according to Peduto.

After meeting this week, PACT members must decide if they will pay to upgrade the system, pull out and build their own heating systems, or stay in but sell PACT to a private energy company that would basically build a new system.

"It's now up to the individual buildings to decide if they want to stay in this system or leave it," says the Mayor.

Allegheny County has decided to pull out and build its own system for the buildings the county owns.

Peduto favors the city staying in and selling the system to California-based Clearway Energy Group.

"Clearway would build a new system which would be parallel to the old system and build it out over the course of three years until we have a state of the art system in place."

Peduto favors Clearway which is building a district energy system uptown to heat and power UPMC's new hospital. It also has a district energy plan on the North Shore.

Building owners are expected to decide this spring.

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