The Wave – May 2013

President’s Letter

District Energy St. Paul is part of the important infrastructure fabric of the city of Saint Paul.  In 1983, we began service to a committed core of customers.  Now, in 2013, as downtown Saint Paul’s primary heating and cooling provider, we are capable of extending services beyond the downtown core. Our service to United Hospital, Mt. Airy homes, Ramsey County’s Law Enforcement Center, the Minnesota State Capital Complex, and the West Side demonstrates our experience providing service far beyond perceived boundaries.  For 30 years, we have engaged developers, business leaders, and planners in our efforts to provide reliable, renewable, and cost-effective service to our current and future customers.

As we plan for service beyond the downtown core, we consider opportunities to recover and repurpose thermal energy currently wasted.  Our team recently completed an Energy Island Integration Study, which examines opportunities to pair existing energy production assets with energy users looking for stable energy options.  This study was a result of original plans to extend heating pipes along University Avenue as part of the Green Line light rail transit corridor’s construction.  While full funding for the highly supported heating pipe extension was not realized, the U.S. Department of Energy did fund the evaluation of energy islands enabling our team to inventory dozens of energy opportunities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  More on this study is available in our newsletter.

The exploration of creative and innovative energy options ultimately allows us to find solutions for the local energy customers.  Existing District Energy customers benefit from our efforts to capture additional energy production and to expand our customer base.  Future customers will gain access to rate stability and the flexibility of our energy production fleet.  Our focus is always the customer and exceptional customer service.  Our reliability, energy efficiency, stable rates, and system versatility serve as a foundation of this service throughout Saint Paul.

Ask the Engineer – Summer Transitions

After an extended Minnesota winter, the warmer weather has arrived and with it comes the annual transitioning of your building’s systems from winter to summer. Below are suggestions to help you maximize the efficiency and operation of your building’s system.

• Blow down your main service strainers and your air handler strainers. Blow down should be done annually.
• Refill your cooling coils and check for leaks.
• Make sure your control valves are responding and maintaining a proper return temperature of 56°F or higher. (Reminder: District Cooling requires a 14°F Delta T for the months of June –September. The system sends 42°F supply water and requires at least 56°F return water.)
• Check to ensure the control valve and positive shut off have full range of motion.
• Exercise your cooling pumps and check for leaks and bad bearings.
• Inspect insulation on cooling equipment and piping. If the insulation is in poor condition or there is no insulation, repair or install immediately or in the fall after cooling season ends.
• For two-pipe systems that require a seasonal changeover, verify that the valves are properly configured and secured from heating mode to cooling mode.

Call us at 651.297.8955 if you have any questions or concerns. We are happy to assist you.

Customer Appreciation Day

District Energy will host our customers on Tuesday, May 21. We host this annual event to encourage customers, board members, and our team to learn about our operations and enjoy time together.   Once again, our popular plant tours will be offered. This year, we are also offering customers the opportunity to explore features of the Midwest’s largest solar thermal installation atop the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

This event also kicks off our annual customer survey. We value our customers and strive to be a dependable service provider for property owners, and the business and residential community. While we are national leaders in district energy, we know our roots are local and the input of customers on our performance is important to us.

We thank our customers and are pleased to be providing such a valuable service in our 30th year. Customers can contact us to RSVP for this event or to receive an electronic survey.

Energy Island Report Released

Initially commissioned to explore the extension of District Energy during Green Line light rail transit corridor construction, the Energy Island Integration Study evolved with support from the Department of Energy and Congresswoman Betty McCollum to identify opportunities for local energy system improvements. The primary focus was integration of renewable energy, district energy systems, and the repurpose of energy from commercial and industrial facilities, health care complexes, academic campuses, and other energy islands. Energy islands are the existing production facilities and energy users operating independent of each other within a close proximity. These islands hold vast potential as integrated energy systems, with facilities possessing excess or waste energy resources (stranded energy) that could be recommissioned to sell to users with matching demands for energy. This stranded energy could be applied more efficiently throughout the system or be shared with other systems to increase productivity and efficiency.

The study findings are intended to support the work of local and regional planning and economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, departments of transportation, developers, architects, and engineers. The report includes recommendations for integrating energy assets and systems in Saint Paul and Minneapolis and establishes a methodology for examining these opportunities in other regions. This integration would develop new opportunities for production facilities, improving production efficiency and creating an income stream from energy sales. Consumers would benefit from the development of affordable and stable energy alternatives. The energy systems and the metropolitan region would benefit from greenhouse gas emission reductions and a more stable and flexible energy system.  The report is currently available on our Press Room page.

ACH Payments Available

District Energy and District Cooling customers have the option to make automatic monthly payments. We are pleased to 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. Applications are available at the bottom of our Billing page.

District Energy and Ramsey County Honored with Sustainable Saint Paul Award

District Energy and Ramsey County received a Sustainable Saint Paul Award in the Renewable Energy category for the solar thermal installation on the Law Enforcement Center’s roof. The county’s solar thermal installation is providing 40 percent of the Law Enforcement Center’s domestic hot water needs. The District Energy engineering team provided support during the installation and commissioning of the system. The joint project to install a solar hot water system on the county law enforcement center in St. Paul is the first solar thermal installation of this size in District Energy St. Paul’s network and serves as a demonstration project for other small- to medium-sized buildings in our system. We applaud Ramsey County’s leadership in renewable energy and the funding partnership with the City of St. Paul, Minnesota Department of Commerce, and U.S. Department of Energy.

News In Brief

Great River Gathering
District Energy was pleased to present the RiverWork Exhibit for the 19th Annual Great River Gathering. Team members welcomed guests at the District Energy exhibit celebrating our 30th year in Saint Paul. We extend sincere appreciation to our fellow exhibitors for sharing their time and talents at the RiverWork Exhibit and a hearty thank you for the great work by the Riverfront Corporation team for such a wonderful event designed to celebrate the Mississippi River, our great natural resource, and Saint Paul, the city along its banks.

Festival of Trees and Arbor Month
Environmental Wood Supply (EWS), the biomass supplier for the heating service provided by District Energy, is a returning sponsor for the Minnesota Festival of Trees and Tree Climbing Championship. EWS will have a display and will be giving away tree seedlings at the event on Saturday, May 18th.

EWS is pleased to sponsor the planting of a Hawthorn tree at Groveland Park Elementary. One of Groveland’s students won the Arbor Month Poster Contest. The tree will be planted in her honor on school grounds.