District Energy St. Paul moves to 100% carbon-neutral cooling


Utility that cools downtown St. Paul now offsets 100 percent of carbon emissions
Pioneer Press, October 28, 2021

October, 28, 2021

CONTACT: Ashley Aram

District Energy St. Paul moves to 100% carbon-neutral cooling

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Starting this month, District Energy St. Paul is providing 100% carbon-neutral cooling to all 119 of its cooling customers – a total of 21 million square feet of building space within downtown Saint Paul. It is one of the first district systems in the US to make this move, thanks to its partnership with Minnesota-based clean energy solutions provider Juhl Energy to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable energy projects in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Moving forward, District Energy is committed to providing carbon-neutral cooling services to our customers,” said Ken Smith, president and CEO of District Energy St. Paul. “We have worked to integrate this agreement with Xcel Energy’s continued effort to add carbon-free electricity to the grid and our commitment of moving our system to decarbonization to benefit our customers and community.”

The RECs mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and are tracked by a third-party entity to ensure accuracy. Going forward, this agreement will offset District Energy customers’ scope 2 emissions associated with electricity used to deliver chilled water to customer buildings.

“We’re excited to partner with District Energy St. Paul and applaud their leadership in moving to carbon-neutral cooling,” said Clay Norrbom, President of Juhl Energy. “District Energy’s REC purchases will help support and grow community-focused and distribution-scale clean energy projects in Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.”

According to a 2021 District Energy customer survey, 85% of respondents stated that renewable energy is important or very important to their business.

“HealthPartners is committed to caring for the places where we live and work so we can provide a healthier, cleaner, and more livable environment for our members, patients, colleagues, and future generations,” said HealthPartners President and CEO Andrea Walsh. “Reducing our carbon footprint is an important step in our journey to implement practices across our organization that promote health by protecting the environment. We have made great strides already, and this effort by District Energy will help us meet our aggressive carbon goals.”

“Securian Financial is encouraged by District Energy’s new carbon-neutral cooling initiative,” said Nicole Hansen, community engagement director at Securian Financial and executive director of Securian Financial Foundation. “This program is another step toward a more sustainable future for our company, community and planet. We thank District Energy for their vision and leadership.”

Purchasing RECs for cooling is another step toward District Energy’s goal to decarbonize its heating and cooling systems. In 2020, District Energy announced a 100% carbon neutrality goal by 2050 along with a goal of 7% carbon reduction each year.

“For decades, District Energy St. Paul has been at the forefront in delivering innovative, reliable and community-based energy solutions,” said Gregg Mast, executive director of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM). “CEEM applauds District Energy for their continued leadership as they begin providing carbon-neutral cooling. This decision benefits customers, supports local renewable energy projects and demonstrates a deep commitment towards achieving their goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Currently, the company provides up to 50% carbon-neutral heating through biomass-fired combined heat and power. In 2019, it eliminated coal from its fuel mix two years ahead of schedule. District Energy is also working with Xcel Energy on an electrification project to further decarbonize its heating services.

“The City of Saint Paul is lucky to have a great partner in District Energy St. Paul as we move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our community,” said Russ Stark, chief resilience officer for the City of Saint Paul. “We know that decarbonization of energy is important to our residents and businesses, and critical to the well-being of our community and all of humankind. Carbon-neutral cooling for downtown Saint Paul buildings is an important milestone in our collective work.”

District Energy will continue to pursue new energy and technology alternatives to achieve carbon neutrality for its customers.

“As a District Energy customer, we’re especially excited that our office cooling – and all others served by District Energy – will be powered or offset by carbon-free electricity,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy. “This is a great example of what’s possible when building efficiency, district energy systems, and carbon-free electricity are combined.”


About District Energy St. Paul

District Energy St. Paul is a leader in community energy, providing Saint Paul with reliable service, stable rates, and sustainable heating and cooling services. As a mission-driven organization, District Energy has an ongoing commitment to advance its system through innovation, while serving as environmental stewards and good community partners.

District Energy St. Paul currently cools 119 buildings and heats 200 buildings and 398 single-family homes in downtown Saint Paul and adjacent areas. The customer base includes local and state government; health care, education, arts, entertainment and hospitality; Fortune 500 companies; start-ups; and landmark small businesses that all thrive with the support of District Energy’s stable and reliable heating and cooling services.

For more information, visit districtenergy.com.

About Juhl Energy

Juhl Energy is an established leader in the renewable energy industry with a focus on competitive, community focused clean energy solutions. Juhl focuses on serving rural communities, municipal and coop electric utilities, and industrial companies throughout the United States. Over the last three decades, Juhl has successfully developed and completed 30 clean energy projects accounting for almost 400 MW of power. In addition to project development and engineering, Juhl owns, operates, and invests in a portfolio of distributed generation wind, solar, and small hydroelectric assets through its Juhl Clean Energy Assets subsidiary. Juhl Energy is headquartered in Chanhassen, Minn., and has other offices in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison.

For more information, visit juhlcleanenergyassets.com.