How Philadelphia could create more electric vehicle charging stations


As electric cars grow in popularity, in part due to a regulatory push from the federal level, the Philadelphia region is going to need more charging stations. A new program is aiming to train workers to build them.

City officials gathered Monday at the Navy Yard, in the new training center for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, to announce a $1.47 million federal grant aimed at training 45 workers for jobs in the electric vehicle supplies and equipment industry.

Those 45 adult pre-apprentices will be split among three cohorts in the “Plug In Philly” pilot program. The initial plans also include a youth summer camp for 80 participants.

The city is partnering with IBEW Local 98 to administer the training. Other partners include Philadelphia Works, the Community College in Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and the National Association of Women in Construction Philadelphia Chapter.

Mayor Cherelle L. Parker noted the Navy Yard location of the announcement and training program as “fitting” given “the energy and the innovation of this area.”

Also fitting, perhaps, given that much of the Navy Yard workforce drives to work. The former military base turned office complex is just off I-95, and free parking abounds for those who commute to the area.

IBEW Local 98 business manager Mark Lynch said the program represents “the new face of Local 98.” Lynch has previously noted that EV charging technology was already part of the Local 98 training curriculum.

Parker linked the training program to her campaign promise of making Philadelphia “the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in America, with economic opportunity for all.”

“It’s going to expand the use of electric vehicles right here in our great city of Philadelphia,” Parker said Monday.

Immediately upon taking office, Parker created a new Office of Clean and Green Initiatives, led by former Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams. The mayor has said her “Clean and Green Cabinet” will aim “to reduce waste, increase recycling, and continue to work towards a more sustainable future — all with an eye towards environmental justice for underserved and under-resourced communities.”

Philadelphia has its own fleet of EVs, which it has been purchasing for several years now with the goal of eventually ceasing city purchases of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. An investigation by NBC10 last year found that the charging infrastructure to fuel those city EVs has been insufficient in number and many installations were not properly permitted.

“We’re working through all that,” Philadelphia managing director Adam Thiel said Monday, with regard to that investigation. “We are absolutely committed to making sure that those infrastructure installations are safe, clean and green in partnership with all the folks here.”

Officials on Monday drew a direct line between the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the funding for Plug In Philly, and said the pilot will aim to train minorities and women for EV jobs.

Lily Reynolds, director of Philadelphia’s Federal Infrastructure Strategy, within the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability said her office is aiming to direct that money so it can “grow generational wealth for Philadelphians, especially for people of color who have been historically excluded from opportunities.” She also said the city and the federal government want the training program developed in Philadelphia to be scalable in the region and elsewhere.


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