The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s dip into electric vehicle charging expects to take a big step forward in 2024 with the installation of charging pads at its headquarters near Harrisburg.

Keith Jack, the turnpike’s manager of facilities operations, said the agency expects responses Jan. 3 to its request for information from firms that can provide inductive charging pads that charge vehicles parked on top of them. It’s the first step in the turnpike’s goal of offering electrified stretches of the toll road to keep vehicles charged as they drive across the state and generate revenue from the sale of electricity.

After reviewing the requests for information, the agency expects to issue a request for formal proposals. The goal is to test a variety of potential suppliers in the parking lot at Middleton by installing demonstration facilities.

Jack said the agency expects to have one or two parking spaces for charging installed this year and as many as 20 by the end of 2025. The estimated cost won’t be available until after the agency reviews the requests for information.

“We want to understand how to install them and how we might get the best use out of them,” Jack said. “That’s kind of step one. We’re just trying to figure out the steps we need to take to move forward with this.”

The new technology is so complicated that different types of charging equipment is used depending on whether it is under asphalt or concrete. The turnpike expects to create spots in the parking lot to test both types of equipment.

Once those tests are underway, the turnpike expects to begin moving forward on a joint project with the Ohio Turnpike and Utah State University’s Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification program to install an electrified stretch of road surface straddling the border of the two states near Sharon. ASPIRE worked with the University of Michigan to open a quarter-mile segment of electrified highway on 14th Street in Detroit in late November.

The turnpike also is working with the University of Pittsburgh on long-range plans to add an electrified portion of roadway in the latter stages of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, which started construction this year between Jefferson Hills and Duquesne. The demonstration could be part of that segment or the follow-up that will extend the highway from Duquesne to the Parkway East in Monroeville.

Jack said he believes there’s “a financial case” for the turnpike to produce revenue from selling electricity to EV drivers who want to buy it while they are driving. Big trucks, in particular, could benefit from charging batteries while they drive because it would allow them to use smaller, lighter batteries and the trucks have the ability to receive as much as eight times more electricity because their size provides more receiving area.

Motorists always would have the option of turning their power receiver on or off as they drive. No system has been set up yet, but drivers could pay for the electricity electronically like paying tolls through EZ-Pass.

Jack stressed that the system would help drivers maintain their charge while driving, but it wouldn’t increase it.

“We trying to maintain their battery charge so they have about the same amount when they get off as when they get on,” he said. “It would maintain, not accelerate.”

The electrified highway also could work in conjunction with the agency’s expansion of its solar power system, which uses the sun to create electricity to power maintenance facilities and offices. The agency is installing solar fields on property it already owns, and extra power that now is sold to the power grid also could be used to supply electrified sections of the highway.

A solar field that opened near Jeannette in late 2022 powers a new maintenance facility there and is selling an average of 1 million kilowatts of electricity each month to the grid, worth about $100,000 a month, said Chris David, regional facilities manager. The agency expects to open additional solar fields in Jefferson Hills and Homewood, Beaver County, in 2024 and is waiting for approval for additional facilities in Allentown and Somerset.

The turnpike has a goal of generating $500 million over the next 30 years from such ancillary operations, which also includes revenue from concessions at 16 rest plazas, leasing space for charging stations at the plazas and selling excess space on its fiber optic system for recording electronic toll payments.

Chief Finance Officer Rich Dreher noted that will help, but the agency generates more than $1.2 billion in revenue annually.

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at