A Gas Executive’s Industry View in 1984
Excerpted from “A Gas Executive’s View of District Heating and Cooling
Benefits, Needs, Opportunities,” Robert H. Willis, Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer, Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., Fourth Quarter 1984
District Heating magazine. Willis spoke at IDHA’s 75th anniversary
conference in June 1984. The Hartford Steam Co., which operates the
system referenced in the article, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of
The Energy East Corp.
“Congratulations on your 75th anniversary.
“District heating and cooling in my opinion is an undertaking with
a great potential that almost no one outside of the industry knows
about, for understandable reasons….
“Connecticut Natural Gas Corp.’s district heating and cooling
operation, now 23 years old, was the first commercial venture of its
kind. We heat and cool most of the major buildings in downtown
“Our district heating and cooling operation has been successful
over the years, and has pioneered in many innovations. Operations
have been profitable in eight of the past 11 years….
“However, like most energy users, we were hit hard by the rising
energy prices of the 1970s and since then….Customer conservation
programs became more and more intensive as energy costs climbed.
Our steam sales plummeted nearly 30 percent from 1973 to 1980 and
chilled-water sales even more.
“We remained convinced that we had an outstanding service to
sell, and our plant and its capacity were steadily upgraded. One
central downtown climate control service saves a lot of energy at a
time when conservation is a national ethic and in spite of current
complacency, is also a national necessity….
“The point I want to make is that central source heating and
cooling, an ancient concept, remains a viable and promising one for
the future, perhaps more so than ever before if we adapt to current
changes and opportunities….
“What is the long range potential for district heating and cooling
progress and service? Unless an association can define it in clear-cut
figures, it is not going to sell the potential to Congress, DOE or anyone
“A second fundamental of association success that I’ve learned is
the fact that vital as lobbying in Washington, D.C., may be, it cannot
be fully effective without backup support from the members back
“No association can really succeed in attaining national legislative
objectives unless its members provide the enthusiastic and unified
local-level support that lets their Congressional representatives know
that there are voters back home who care….
“To sum up, our own experience at Connecticut Natural Gas
indicates to me that district heating and cooling can have an excellent
future. Realization of the potential will require a continuing strong
effort to obtain favorable legislative treatment in Congress.
“Your Washington people certainly are making good progress in
this direction. I also urge that both through your association and
through individual localized efforts, you seek to develop better public
understanding of the environmental and economic benefits of district
heating and cooling….
“It has been a pleasure for me to meet with you, and I thank you
A Cooling Breakthrough
Excerpted from an editorial by IDHA’s Executive Director Norm Taylor,
Third Quarter 1984 District Heating magazine.
“…. Why do we think district cooling is so important that we may even
change IDHA to IDHCA – International District Heating and Cooling
“Cooling has always been sort of a stepchild in the district heating ethic.
Certainly we have kept statistics on cooling systems, and there is a hot
and chilled water technical committee, but all in all it was generally
something of an afterthought. It took a recent DOE study as to just how
much cooling by chilled water distribution was in place in the U.S. It did
not take much imagination to project
that this was a fast growing market and
that it fits very nicely with district heating and its full bore addition puts real
meaning into district thermal systems.”
Editor’s Note 2009: Norm Taylor was
diagnosed with cancer shortly after the
third quarter 1984 issue was published.
He formally submitted his resignation
from IDHA in the fourth quarter 1984
issue, just as the organization officially
changed its name to the International
District Heating & Cooling Association.
Taylor passed away in 1986. The Norman
R. Taylor Award – IDEA’s person of the
year – is named in his honor.
In the late 1970s and
worked closely with the
U.S. Department of
Energy and the U.S.
Department of Housing
and Urban Development,
which supported grant
programs for district
heating system develop-ment. Shown here are
early 1980s, IDHA
Wyndham Clarke, Energy Division, HUD; Floyd Collins, Utility Systems
Division, DOE; Mike Karnitz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Stuart