District Energy St. Paul began as an inventive vision and a community-oriented solution for the City of St. Paul. While its transformation over more than 30 years may make it unrecognizable to some, it is still distinguished by its original values of customer-focus and innovation.

The groundbreaking of District Energy St. Paul

1979 - The Beginning

Inspired by Scandinavian ingenuity and Mayor George Latimer’s vision for a community energy system, local and national leadership came together to form District Energy St. Paul as a public-private partnership. Using the expertise of Swedish engineer Hans Nyman, District Energy’s first president, the system was developed as one of the first hot water district energy systems in North America—an important breakthrough in achieving energy efficiency and fuel flexibility, while maintaining reliability and stable rates for customers.

The addition of District Cooling

1993 - The Addition of Cooling

Building on the success of the district heating system, District Energy’s second president, Anders Rydaker, envisioned a district cooling system to serve downtown Saint Paul and increase efficiency and reliability for building owners. Service started in 1993 to 12 customers and has grown to over 100 customers. The efficiency of the cooling system was enhanced in 1994 when chilled water thermal storage was added.

The District Energy St. Paul plant in 2003

2003 - Combined Heat and Power

District Energy became a renewable energy service provider following construction of a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that is fueled by a renewable resource—urban tree waste. Using renewable fuel, the CHP plant simultaneously produces up to 65 megawatts of thermal energy for District Energy and 25 megawatts of electricity for Xcel Energy. It is the largest wood-fired CHP plant serving a district energy system in the nation.

The rooftop solar thermal installation

2011 - Hot Water Solar

The system was advanced further with the installation of one of the country’s largest hot water solar projects and the first in the United States to be integrated into a district heating system. The system peaks over 1.2 MW (thermal equivalent) and provides hot water and space heating to the Saint Paul RiverCentre, as well as other District Energy customers.

District Energy St. Paul's plant on Kellogg Blvd

Today – A Forward Outlook

District Energy is now one of the most advanced and integrated systems in North America, incorporating CHP, biomass, solar thermal, community solar partnerships, and thermal storage. We are currently exploring low temperature loops and geo-exchange projects that would move the system into the scope of the most advanced systems in the world.