Understanding District Energy Rates
Not many people look forward to monthly bills and even fewer spend much time analyzing why they pay what they do. Utility bills are more complex than many and have more than one component energy, energy production, energy delivery, and operations and maintenance costs. The components of District Energy St. Paul bills are consistent with those of other utilities.
One part of all utility bills is the cost of fuel, and different fuels for energy production are available at different—and sometimes volatile—costs. Whether the fuel is natural gas, biomass or solar energy, the cost of fuel is simply referred to as an “energy cost.” The energy cost is based on our fuel options, including fossil fuels, biomass (from tree trimmings and other waste wood), and now, solar. Our rate is more stable than most systems because of our fuel flexibility and the efficiency of our system, including the use of thermal storage. Fuel prices are passed along at cost to our customers.
The other portion of District Energy St. Paul’s bill is a demand charge. This is also referred to as a capacity charge since it is based on the system’s capacity to serve your building. The demand charge is comprised of the costs of operating and maintaining our plant and distribution system. District Energy normalizes its demand charge over the previous 12 months of actual costs providing customers with the ability to forecast costs for a longer time period. So the demand charge could be compared to the capital investments made for on-site equipment or to the riders often added to other utility rates.
When comparing services, it is important to look at all of the costs involved in producing energy and what equipment would be needed to use it in a building. If a building is not on the District Energy system, they also need to invest in on-site equipment, on-site maintenance, and additional staffing to operate that equipment.
District Energy rates have been exceptionally stable over the last thirty years, and looking forward we see continued stability, even in an increasingly volatile fuel market. Our rates have fluctuated less than the industry as a whole, and are lower than the industry average in our region. We continue to seek out greater system efficiencies and options to deliver more energy for less, which is good for our local economy and environment.
District Energy St. Paul is a non-profit organization, operating for the public good under federal tax laws. We do not earn a profit, but instead continuously reinvest into the system to provide the lowest possible rates and the best possible service.
We hope you will contact us if you have any questions about rates, terminology, or billing processes. We look forward to another thirty years of stable and reliable service to Saint Paul.
ACH Payment Available
District Energy customers have the option to make automatic monthly payments. We offer ACH payment processing to provide payment convenience and flexibility. To set up your account you will need to submit an application. The application requests standard billing information, authorization for automatic payments, and a voided check. Customers taking advantage of the automatic payment option will continue to receive bills and will notice “auto payment” shown on the bill.