SEPTA Advances Innovative Sustainability Projects

SEPTA Advances Innovative Sustainability Projects

Energy Retrofits and a Natural Gas Plant Designed to Improve SEPTA's Environmental Performance

Today SEPTA’s Board approved two sustainability projects that will reduce energy consumption and improve resilience – at no cost to the Authority. The two projects – first, an $18.2 million energy retrofit of SEPTA five facilities and railcar fleets with high-efficiency technologies; and second, an estimated $26.8 million natural gas plant to power part of SEPTA’s Regional Rail system and its largest bus garage – will be financed entirely through energy savings guaranteed to SEPTA under the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA). Both projects will be designed and built by a certified energy savings company (ESCO) that specializes in energy efficient technologies to be deployed at each project location.

Together, the $45.0 million in energy projects reflect a continued commitment to “budget neutral” implementation of SEPTA’s award-winning Sustainability Program. The ESCOs will be responsible for providing private capital and a savings guarantee; if the savings do not materialize, the ESCOs will be responsible for covering the difference in repayment. For this reason, SEPTA is able to use the self-funding approach to improve its environmental performance without utilizing the authority’s own capital resources.

“The sustainability projects approved today leverage significant private sector investment that adds value for riders while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “The self-funding strategy continues a business-like approach towards sustainability, and it will make our system stronger moving forward.”

Details about each project are available below.

Energy Retrofits, SEPTA Facilities & Railcar Fleets

SEPTA has finalized the design of an $18.2 million project with Constellation to retrofit five SEPTA facilities and railcar fleets with high-efficiency technologies. Construction will begin in Fall 2015. Facilities and railcar fleets to be retrofitted include:


  • Southern Bus Garage (1934 Johnston Street, Philadelphia)
  • Berridge/Courtland Shop (200 W. Wyoming Avenue, Philadelphia)
  • Fern Rock Shop (5801 N. 11th Street, Philadelphia)
  • Germantown Shop (6721 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia)

Rail Cars

  • Regional Rail (Silverliner IV, Silverliner V, Push-Pull Fleets)
  • Broad Street Line (B-IV Fleet)
  • Norristown High Speed Line (N-5 Fleet)

The retrofits reflect a broad range of improvements including: LED lighting, building insulation, HVAC controls, and water conservation. In total, the retrofits will generate more than $26 million in guaranteed energy savings over 17 years, an amount sufficient to pay for the entire project and still provide additional net savings to the Operating Budget.

Combined Heat & Power (CHP) Plant, Midvale Complex, North Philadelphia

SEPTA has selected Noresco, LLC as the ESCO to design an estimated $26.8 million Combined Heat & Energy (CHP) Plant at SEPTA’s Midvale Complex in North Philadelphia. The proposed CHP plant would use twin natural gas generators to power the Wayne Junction Substation (serving the old Reading Railroad network) and Midvale Bus Garage (SEPTA’s largest, housing more than 300 buses) with clean, abundant and low-cost Pennsylvania natural gas.

Noresco will now conduct an investment grade audit (IGA) to determine the optimal configuration of the CHP Plant. To maximize the efficiency of the gas-powered equipment, the design will size the plant to provide base load power while assigning peak loads to the commercial power system. Excess heat from the CHP plant will cover the heating load at three additional nearby SEPTA facilities. Importantly, the CHP Plant would provide SEPTA with a resilient source of power in the event of a regional electrical grid outage, allowing trains to continue to operate to transport passengers safely to their destinations, even during a blackout.

If the IGA determines the CHP Plant can be self-funded under the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Savings Act, the plant could be operational by 2017.

For additional information about SEPTA’s ongoing sustainability efforts, please visit: