University of Pittsburgh
December 7, 2011

DOE Awards Grant to Southwestern Pennsylvania Coalition, Including Pitt’s CONNECT Program, in Order to Grow Solar Market, Green Jobs

Local plan was only Keystone State Application approved by DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge
Contact:  412-624-4147


PITTSBURGH—In an effort to help advance the use of solar power, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $315,697 to a coalition of private and public organizations—including the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) program of the Center for Metropolitan Studies in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh—to help standardize and streamline ordinances and processes for the installation of solar power in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

The Rooftop Solar Challenge, a DOE SunShot Initiative, awarded a total of $12 million to 22 teams across the country to help increase solar power installation in homes and businesses in communities and reduce administrative costs for installing the systems. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar power cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. This Southwestern Pennsylvania solar power grant was the only Keystone State Application approved by the DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge. 

According to the DOE, reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by 75 percent could drive widespread large-scale adoption of solar power—fortifying U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race while spurring new industries and job creation across the nation.

“CONNECT is proud to be a partner in this consortium of organizations working together to bring progressive environmental practices to our region,” said Patricia Schaefer, the chair of CONNECT and president of Edgewood Borough Council.  “Together as CONNECT, the urban core communities have yet another example of the good work that can be done by local governments that understand the importance of working with each other to the benefit of each of our communities.”

CONNECT is an effort to create a forum for local cooperation and to address mutual concerns and interests for the City of Pittsburgh and its urban core communities. CONNECT’s mission is to coordinate the activities of these municipalities by advocating for and voicing the collective interests of the urban core and its nearly 690,000 residents; developing and enhancing ways the 37 municipalities work together to deliver important public services; and maintaining a forum for the discussion, deliberation, and implementation of new ways to maximize economic prosperity for Western Pennsylvania.

CONNECT partnered with the Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future’s Three Rivers Solar Source project, the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania, and the Green Building Alliance to help open the door to interagency and intermunicipality cooperation when it comes to municipal zoning and building codes for solar power installation. 

The 23 municipalities in Southwestern Pennsylvania participating in the grant’s initiative include Aspinwall, Baldwin Borough, Brentwood, Carnegie, Dormont, Etna, Forest Hills, Green Tree, McKees Rocks, Monroeville, Mount Oliver, O’Hara, Pittsburgh, Richland, Scott, Sharpsburg, Shaler, Stowe, Upper St. Clair, West Mifflin, and Wilkinsburg in Allegheny County and Midland and Monaca in Beaver County.

Details of the grant are available at 




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