named, envisioned a three-step process of district heating renewal, followed by district cooling and finally linked together with a biomass
combined heat and power (CHP) facility. (IDEA
last held an annual conference in Minneapolis/
St. Paul in 1985, just as the final phase of initial
construction of the hot water system in St.
Paul was being completed.)
What began as an investment in new
underground infrastructure became an investment in the future of the community. About
10 years after completing the new heating
network, district cooling service commenced,
eventually adding storage and satellite chiller
plants to optimize assets and serve a growing
customer demand. The third phase of investment involved constructing a CHP facility to
burn municipal waste wood and displace
nearly 275,000 annual tons of coal to cogen-erate power and heat. But what is most significant is not just the three phases of capital
investment and integrated technologies,
rather the creation of numerous value streams
for the local economy.
The investment in district energy infrastructure has generated hundreds of construction jobs over the past 25 years – skilled,
high-paying jobs for pipefitters, electricians
and crafts men and women. Local businesses
have sold equipment, materials and services
and continue to provide much needed exper-
tise and goods to the ongoing operations.
The conversion from coal to waste wood
allows fuel dollars to recirculate in the local
economy instead of flowing out of state or to
foreign oil suppliers, in turn causing an energy
The investment in district
energy infrastructure has
generated hundreds of
multiplier effect of additional jobs and economic retention. Because the investment creates thermal scale, more efficient technologies
that mitigate environmental emissions can be
employed for cleaner air, water conservation
and reduced landfill congestion.
In addition, building owners can redirect
capital toward revenue-producing activities
rather than replace aging boilers and chillers.
Overall energy reliability in the community is
enhanced with local generation near the
load, diverse technologies like district cooling
and thermal storage that displace peak electric demand, and better thermal portfolio
management through controls and simplified
District Energy St. Paul demonstrates the
growing value of recycling energy on a community scale, especially as oil and natural gas
costs continue to soar. IDEA contends that district energy systems like this merit full support
from state, local and federal government and
policies like Renewable Portfolio Standards
should embrace a Recycling Portfolio Standard
so that model systems like St. Paul qualify as a
source of clean energy generation.
Twenty-five years ago, a coalition envisioned a cleaner, more efficient energy future
for downtown St. Paul. Today, that investment is paying dividends and growing in
value. IDEA welcomes our friends around the
world to come and see what President Bush
saw four years ago and to experience the
realization of a shared vision of a model of
energy efficiency from nearly 25 years ago.
Robert P. Thornton
Column also available at
Make sure you’re included!
IDEA’s Resource Guide is the association’s ‘white pages’ and ‘yellow pages,’ all in one.
IDEA’s ‘yellow pages’ – the buyers’ guide section – provides IDEA-member manufacturers, suppliers
and service providers with a free 50-word descriptive listing in the category of their choice. To
leverage their exposure, business partners may want to purchase additional listings in multiple
categories for just $100 each. Descriptions are due May 13, 2005, along with any additional
Or, take advantage of the display advertising opportunities – full-page or half-page black-and-
white advertising space is available. Have your advertisement viewed multiple times over the
long shelf life of this directory! Just reserve your ad space by May 13, 2005, and submit ad
materials by May 27, 2005.
The ‘white pages’ portion of the guide automatically lists all IDEA members in good standing in
alphabetical order by last name and also by company in each industry market segment. There’s also a geographical listing that can be
useful when looking for members in a specific area.
All of this information will be made available to IDEA members in fall 2005 in a bound printed version and on IDEA’s Web site. The buyers’
guide will be posted to a global audience; the membership directory will be posted in the members-only section.
For listing or advertising information contact:
Tanya Kozel (410) 518-6676 or email@example.com.