D E NVE R’S
“THE BEST IS
YET TO COME”
Jan Wagner, Director – Thermal Energy,
Xcel Energy Inc.; Stephen P. Kutska,
Development Manager – Thermal Energy,
Xcel Energy Inc.
Denver’s district steam system may
not be the first commercial district steam
system (that would be the Lockport, N.Y.,
system founded 1877), nor the largest (that
would be Con Ed in New York City), but
it indeed has the distinction of being the
oldest continuously operated commercial
district heating system in the world. Steam
service began to the first customers of The
Denver City Steam Heating Co. Nov. 5, 1880,
and has continued for 128 years. Today, as
part of Xcel Energy Inc., the system serves
more than 135 customers in the downtown
Denver area from its original plant site. A
decade ago this year, the system added
chilled-water cooling to its portfolio of services.
Over the years, the system has expanded,
surmounted challenges, embraced new
technologies – and always kept its sight set
on the future as it continually anticipates
the changing needs of its customers.
The Early Days
On Dec. 15, 1879, four visionaries filed
papers incorporating The Denver City Steam
Heating Co. with a capital stock of $500,000.
The purpose of the company was “to sell
and supply steam for heating of stores,
dwelling houses and all buildings in the
city of Denver, for motive power, cooking
purposes and to such other purposes as
steam may be required by the Holly district
system of steam heating.”
At the time, the four steam system
incorporators were among the richest men
in Denver. John W. Smith, president, was a
successful businessman who also started
Colorado Savings Bank after moving to the
city in June 1860. Vice President Erastus F.
Hallack ran a local lumberyard and was a
director of the Denver Water Works Co.
George Tritch, treasurer, started a successful
hardware business in the 1860s. Chief engi-