The Wave – October 2018

Letter from the President

Ken Smith

Ken Smith

Stewardship has always been a key tenet of the District Energy culture and is essential to our commitment to customers and the environment. As we approach the new fiscal year, our team is also thinking about how important financial stewardship is to maintaining a successful and cost-effective operation. Each year we shape a plan for the system that prioritizes system reliability, making sure that our production equipment is ready for each season, diligently maintaining our distribution system, and working with our customers to help them address critical functionality in their buildings. We know reliability is the number one priority for our customers, and we align our investments with your needs.

Energy efficiency for the system is a perfect intersection of stewardship for customers and the environment. The past few years we have reshaped our teams and our technology strategies to improve our overall controls, which has resulted in energy savings throughout the system. We continue to refine our cooling production dispatch sequence to help utilize our thermal storage tanks more effectively. We are also preparing the Nyman plant for a historic upgrade, as we prepare for the elimination of coal from the system two years earlier than anticipated. Our system will be coal-free for the 2019-2020 heating season. The first time the plant has operated coal-free in more than 100 years. This effort will not only reduce our carbon impact, but it will allow our heating equipment to be dispatched more efficiently throughout the season.

As the system improves, we are also seeing opportunities to save energy by lowering the heating system distribution temperature. Our team is studying this possibility and will share more with customers in 2019. These operational improvements also result in cost savings for our customers, who benefit from our cost-based rate structure.
Our energy efficiency efforts are only half of the opportunity to save within the system. We know that our customers are implementing new technology and operations protocols to improve the efficiency of their building systems. Optimized building performance can also help our entire system perform better, so the District Energy team wants to help you and your teams with these projects. This past year we have taken several steps to improve our energy efficiency program for our customers, including developing new usage analytics and reporting mechanisms. As well as adding new engineering and data analytics resources to help assess and implement energy efficiency opportunities in customer buildings. To learn more, please reach out to our team.

As we look toward 2019, our team is excited about the prospect of new projects, system improvement, and working with our customers to achieve energy savings. We believe this is all part of our commitment as stewards because we know it makes a difference for this community. Thank you for being a part of that effort.

Preventative Maintenance

As the season shifts to fall, it is a good time to prepare your building systems for the heating season. Scheduled and preventative maintenance can keep your building’s systems running efficiently, extend equipment life, and help to avoid unexpected downtime and costly repairs. The District Energy team has developed a list of common tasks that most manufacturers recommend for certain equipment. These steps can be incorporated into the maintenance program for your building. For personnel safety and to protect equipment, maintenance tasks should be performed by qualified and trained individuals.

Save the Date – Operating Engineers Seminar

District Energy Operating Engineers SeminarPlease join us for our annual Operating Engineer Seminar on November 14, 2018, from 11:30 AM – 1 PM. This year we will focus on energy optimization solutions for your operations. Prior to the event, you will receive a customized energy trend report for your buildings. In our work to help customers conserve energy, our engineers have discovered some common issues and effective solutions. We invite you to join our team to discuss ideas that you can take back to your operations to conserve energy. Additional details will be coming soon. Please RSVP to Jenae Batt at or 651.925.8170.

District Energy Rates

Each year the District Energy team works diligently to plan for the upcoming fiscal cycle, which begins on October 1. This planning includes a thorough analysis of our operations and what it will take to keep our production and distribution system operating reliably and cost-effectively.

Our rates have stayed below the rate of inflation for 35 years. For this upcoming year, District Energy’s Board of Directors has approved a small demand rate increase to cover necessary improvements to maintain system reliability and efficiency. Our Board of Directors and staff are highly aware of the importance of rate stability to our customers and work tirelessly to manage our costs. This commitment will continue as we look for ways to help keep our energy rate low and demand rate stable in upcoming years. The overall heating rate (energy plus demand) is projected to decrease 1.3% over 2018 budgeted rates. The overall cooling rate (energy plus demand) is projected to increase 1.1% over the 2018 budgeted rates.

As always, our goal is to keep costs as low as possible while providing the highest value of services. For any questions about budget forecasts or building performance, our customer service team can be reached at 651.297.8955 or email

New Website

District Energy home page photoWe are pleased to share the launch of the new District Energy website. The new site is focused on you, our customers. We want the site to connect you to the resources and support that you have come to expect from our team. Highlights of the new site include:

    • Ask the Engineer – Explore advice and practical solutions to optimize and maintain your building systems. You can also reach out to ask our engineers your questions.
    • How it Works – Learn more about how your building systems connect to the District Energy network to provide you with reliable heating and cooling services.
    • Sustainability – Find resources for your environmental building certifications and to tell your sustainability story while discovering how District Energy supports environmental stewardship.
    • How We Can Help – Consider reaching out to our team as you work on new heating and cooling projects.
    • Community – See how we are connected to our community through our customers, service, and giving.

BOMA Services Expo

BOMA Expo 2018

Jenae Batt, Steve Rambeck, Tom Anderson, and Jeff Volovsek

It was great to see our customers and other service providers at BOMA’s 28th Annual Products and Services Expo. Our team enjoys this opportunity each year to connect with customers and tenants from customer buildings. The event is also a great opportunity to introduce the benefits of District Energy services to others. Thanks to all of you who stopped by our booth.

Recognizing Energy Awareness Month

Energy Awareness Month MNOctober is Energy Awareness Month in Minnesota. Energy plays a central role in our lives at work, at home, and at play. Visit our website to learn more about how District Energy supports Saint Paul customers. To learn more about energy conservation and efficiency, you can find advice from our team on our Ask the Engineer page.