The Wave – April 2019

Checking in on Sustainability

We are working on new sustainability objectives and hoping to hear from our customers. If you have an energy or carbon goal for your building or company, please reach out to Nina Axelson to share your current and future objectives. We will use this information to inform upcoming initiatives.

President’s letter

Ken Smith
Ken Smith

By anyone’s standards, it was a cold and snowy winter in Saint Paul. Even with temperatures consistently below zero and many snow fall events, District Energy’s heating and cooling services remained reliable for you, our customers.

Year after year our customers tell us that energy reliability is the most important value that we can deliver to their business. I want to acknowledge our team’s commitment to constant monitoring and regular planned maintenance that help us to keep our promise to you and your customers.

Extremely cold temperatures put additional stress on energy systems and infrastructure. In addition to closely monitoring our own systems, we are vigilant in looking for signs that could indicate issues in our customers’ buildings. We serve our city’s hospitals, schools, government buildings, offices, homes, and entertainment venues, which means that we provide heating and cooling for a lot of people in our city every day. I am grateful that our team genuinely understands the importance of our role in delivering reliable heating on the coldest days to our customers and their patrons, patients, tenants, and guests. You rely on us, and we take great care to deliver.

Beyond the extra care we give our operations during weather extremes, we know the value of well-planned preventive maintenance. Long before most of us are thinking about subzero temperatures and snow, our team is working diligently to repair and ready our systems for our long Minnesota winters. In both energy production and energy distribution, we follow a proven process of preventive and corrective maintenance to make sure that we are as prepared as we can possibly be before the cold and hot weather come.

We want to thank you for trusting in our services when you need them most. As we look toward warmer days, please reach out to our team if we can help you prepare for cooling season or consult on your buildings’ preventative maintenance plan for next winter.

Energy Efficiency Program

At District Energy we prioritize energy conservation and system efficiency at customer buildings as well as in our energy production and distribution network. We have a customized approach to our customers’ building efficiency projects, and last year our efficiency program became more formalized. Over the last six months, we have been working with customers that are dealing with system inefficiencies and challenges with return temperatures for heating or cooling. For many of these buildings, our team has been able to identify low-cost repairs or low-impact modifications to operations to improve energy efficiency. At the same time, we have continued to consult on and contribute to our customer’s identified building projects.

Whether you are working to better understand your building’s energy use, or you have identified efficiency projects, we can support your efforts. Our team has years of experience in troubleshooting inefficiencies, analyzing building energy trends, and outlining system optimization. Contact our team about your energy projects and for information on how we can help you meet your energy savings goals. You can reach us at 651.297.8955 or info@districtenergy.com.

Welcome New District Energy Customer

We welcome the Ramsey County’s Medical Examiner Office to the District Energy system. Starting in January 2019, we began providing heating and domestic hot water to the facility that provides vital services to several counties in Minnesota including Ramsey, Washington, Aitkin, Blue Earth, Cass, Clay, Crow Wing, Freeborn, Hubbard, Kanabec, Le Seuer, Morrison, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Stearns, Waseca, and Wilkin. The office also provides forensic services and support throughout the state and in Wisconsin.

Snow Melt Can Simplify Snow Removal

This past February was one for the record books, with snowfall almost every day. It was also one of the iciest winters in recent memory, with so many thaw and freeze cycles. In downtown Saint Paul, there is a unique way to make snow and ice removal much simpler. District Energy customers enjoy the benefits of this simplicity with snow melt systems, a sub-pavement system that circulates a warm water glycol mix through tubing to remove snow.

Snow melt systems can be built into any pavement application including sidewalks, streets, stairs, and parking lots. The system can be set up to turn on automatically when the outdoor temperature and humidity indicate that it is snowing. Utilizing low temperature hot water allows for the incorporation of a wide variety of low-grade energy sources such as the building’s waste heat or District Energy’s return water.

Snow melt eliminates the hassle, expense, and risk of manual snow removal. It also eliminates the use of chemicals and salts that are harmful to the watershed and corrosive to sidewalks and buildings. Snow removal chemicals not only damage building facades, but also find their way into buildings harming carpet and flooring. Walkways that are snow, ice, and salt-free will increase the comfort and confidence of building owners and their customers while reducing the risk of slip and falls. Contact District Energy to learn how your building can be connected to snow melt services.

Save the Date for Customer Appreciation Day

We would like to thank you for your business and your partnership. Please save the date for our Customer Appreciation event at lunchtime on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. We look forward to connecting with you over good food, fun raffle prizes, and great conversations. This year we will host the event at one of our customer buildings, the Securian Club at CHS Field. If you have any questions, please contact Jenae Batt at 651.925.8170 or jenae.batt@districtenergy.com

Chiller Fleet Gets a New, Efficiency Star

In April we will be adding a new chiller to our cooling assets. The 2650-ton Trane is highly efficient because of variable frequency drives on the chiller components. This will allow us to operate the chiller at high efficiency levels at any load on the chiller. The chiller also has the advantage of using a next generation refrigerant, R1233zd. Next generation refrigerants have extremely low global warming potential and zero ozone depletion potential which minimizes environmental impacts. Two steam absorption chillers were removed from the plant to make room for the new chiller. Pairing this chiller with recent cooling system optimization projects and thermal storage can help us increase efficiency throughout our cooling services.

Muneer Rehan Welcome Muneer Rehan

Muneer Rehan joined the Ever-Green Energy team in December and will be supporting District Energy customers.

Muneer is a mechanical engineer with experience in electricity generation at Pacific Gas and Electric (San Francisco, CA) and Karachi Electric (Pakistan). Since he joined the team, Muneer has enjoyed working on several significant plant projects including installing a new chiller and preparing to convert boilers from coal to natural gas. He is looking forward to working with our customers and learning about their building systems.

With an interest in how the technical and financial aspects of energy systems and community come together, Muneer likes seeing first-hand the impact and possibilities for District Energy and other systems. He said, “District energy technology offers solutions to a wide variety of issues emerging in urban centers around the world in all sorts of different climates. Working in a company that runs a plant in a city like Saint Paul, but also looks for projects in milder climates like San Francisco is exciting, as that clearly shows the intent of the company to provide a wide range of sustainable and economically feasible solutions.”

Muneer received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from National University of Sciences and Technology (Pakistan) and a master’s degree in Energy Systems from Northeastern University (Boston, MA).

Kris TaylorKris Taylor Named Board Chairperson

In February 2019, Kris Taylor was named Chairperson on the District Energy Board of Directors. Kris joined the Board in 2014. As District Energy Chairperson, she also serves on the Ever-Green Energy Board of Directors.

Kris is the Vice President of Global Community Relations for Ecolab and is responsible for the development and execution of the company’s community-based programs. The company and foundation give time and resources to communities Ecolab serves to focus on youth and education, civic and community development, environment and conservation, and arts and culture. Kris joined Ecolab in 2004, bringing extensive knowledge in nonprofit and for-profit operations, and leadership in human resources, finance, and strategic communications. Her experiences are a tremendous asset to our Board of Directors.

Kris has served on 40 boards of directors and in leadership roles for nonprofit organizations, including chair of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and the United Hospital Foundation where she was named Trustee of the Year in 2013. Kris has been recognized with many accolades including the Saint Paul Area Chamber HERBIE Award in 2018.

At District Energy, we are grateful that Kris’ business acumen, interest in energy solutions, and connection to Saint Paul businesses align with our organization’s work. In her tenure on the board, Kris has enjoyed learning about energy trends and advanced energy solutions as well as hearing from her board cohorts about their businesses, challenges, and triumphs.

Kris said, “Saint Paul continues to see solid investment in building projects, and as Chair, I am looking forward to helping District Energy respond to the new needs of customers while navigating the potential of expanded business relationships and service offerings. More companies are looking for alternative energy solutions to reduce their carbon impact and District Energy can be a good partner to achieve those goals.”

Ken Smith, President, and CEO of District Energy, has worked alongside Kris at District Energy and the Saint Paul Area Chamber. He shared, “Kris is a dedicated leader with a deep commitment to Saint Paul and the East Metro area. Her insights and experience contribute a thoughtful perspective that reflects both our customers and community.”

Welcome Beverly Jones Heydinger

Beverly Jones Heydinger

In February the Board of Directors welcomed new member Beverly Jones Heydinger. Beverly retired from her position as Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2017, a position to which she was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in 2012. During her tenure, she oversaw a wide range of proceedings, including rate cases, integrated resources plans, pipeline, transmission line, wind farm, and solar siting, and development and implementation of Minnesota’s solar programs. Read more.

Mark Rancone’s 26 Years of Board Service

Mark E. Rancone, CPM, will be leaving the District Energy Board of Directors after 26 years of service. Mark joined the District Cooling Board in 1993 and moved to the District Energy Board in 2004. (In 2015 District Cooling merged with District Energy.) He served as Chairperson from 2014-2019.

Mark Rancone

Mark is the president of Roseville Properties Management Co., and his company formerly owned the Degree of Honor Building and developed Landmark Tower/Park Towers Condominiums (known at the time as Amhoist Tower). His perspective as a Saint Paul resident and building owner provided valuable insight to District Energy about customer needs, service benefits, and how to communicate value. His experience as school board chair and chair for the West Saint Paul Charter Commission helped him to provide great board leadership for District Energy. Before moving into commercial real estate, Mark was a teacher. He has been a champion of the outreach and educational work that District Energy has done to educate individuals and organizations on the benefits of renewable energy and district energy technology. He is proud of hosting tour groups from around the world as well as the Saint Paul community. Mark loved the energy education program that District Energy once offered and enjoyed watching the team interact with students at Linwood Elementary.

Over the years, Mark has been part of many milestones at District Energy including welcoming the first cooling customers, developing combined heat and power, integrating biomass and solar thermal. He said, “I am a Saint Paul boy that has been so lucky to be exposed to an organization with impressive and genuinely committed fellow board members. It has been a great experience to work alongside company leadership that has built a team with world renowned technical skills. Together they have developed a culture of dedicated employees and a business model that Saint Paul can be very, very proud of.”

The quickly changing energy landscape coupled with advancing technologies and the potential of new services intrigue Mark, and he will continue to serve on the Ever-Green Energy Board of Directors. He looks forward to seeing what new practices and solutions the organization can bring to Saint Paul to help keep downtown an economically competitive and vibrant working and living environment.

District Energy Retires Coal

Downtown St. Paul utility District Energy goes coal-free, Pioneer Press

St. Paul’s District Energy says goodbye to coal, Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul’s District Energy burns last of its coal, readies to phase it out, Star Tribune

 

Next – Annual Report 2018

District Energy Annual ReportThis year’s annual report features our efforts to increase system efficiency through smarter technologies; the exciting changes in customer building design and programming; as well as our take on marketplace trends and what those trends mean for our work in Saint Paul. Thank you to our partners and customers for another year of progress. After 35 years of reliable service to Saint Paul, it is an exciting time to look toward our future. Read more.