IDEA Commends Bingaman for Attention to Combined Heat and Power and Useful Thermal Energy in Clean Energy Standard

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The International District Energy Association applauds Senator Jeff Bingaman for recognizing the advantages and potential of combined heat and power (CHP) and useful thermal energy in his Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012.

The International District Energy Association (IDEA) applauds Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) for recognizing the efficiency and economic advantages of combined heat and power (CHP) and useful thermal energy in his Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012.

IDEA President Rob Thornton stated, “Senator Bingaman’s bill recognizes the advantages and potential for Combined Heat & Power (CHP) as an economically attractive resource in a national clean energy standard and goes one step further to consider clean energy resources such as district thermal energy that can substantially reduce electric energy loads without specifically producing electric energy. There is tremendous potential to cut emissions, harvest industrial and surplus heat, and tap clean, renewable sources of thermal energy to dramatically enhance the efficiency of our cities, communities, campuses and buildings across the United States. We applaud the Senator and co-sponsors for recognizing that thermal energy efficiency is essential to a cost-effective clean energy standard.”

Combined heat and power, especially in conjunction with a district energy network, is a proven technology that can dramatically increase the fuel efficiency of the electricity sector with the simultaneous production of useful thermal energy and power nearer to end users. CHP systems can reach efficiencies above eighty percent. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimated in 2008 that increasing the percentage of electricity generated by combined heat and power in the US from 85 GW of capacity (9%) to 241 GW (20%) by 2030 would attract $234 billion in private investment, produce 5.3 quads of annual fuel savings, create nearly 1 million new jobs and cut CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 154 million cars off the road.

District energy systems are critical for realization of the full potential of CHP. These systems supply thermal energy through underground piping networks for heating, cooling and process energy to multiple buildings in a city, community or campus. By aggregating the thermal needs of dozens or even hundreds of buildings, the district energy system optimizes economies of scale to capitalize on the use of surplus heat from CHP facilities, municipal solid waste, industrial surplus heat and renewable cooling from nearby oceans, lakes and rivers. “Since over 40% of end use energy is in heating and cooling buildings, it’s time we looked beyond electricity-only policies to unleash innovation and investment in infrastructure technologies that are 'built to last' for our economy,” says Rob Thornton, CEO of IDEA.

There is growing awareness of the value and competitiveness of CHP, particularly when combined with district energy systems. Recently, Energy Secretary Steven Chu toured Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO) in Houston, Texas and commented on the significant benefits of CHP and district energy that supplies steam for heating and chilled water for cooling to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world. During Secretary Chu’s February 16 testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the proposed 2013 Department of Energy budget, he commented that the Department of Energy is “bullish on CHP” and cited the advantages of increased efficiency, reduced strain on the electrical grid and lower operating costs as key advantages of this proven technology.

IDEA acknowledges the valuable support of the bill’s co-sponsors, Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado, Al Franken of Minnesota, Chris Coons of Delaware, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“CHP, particularly when combined with district energy, is first and foremost a readily available and economically competitive technology that can increase efficiency, reduce dependence on imported fuels, relieve strain on the electric grid and cut emissions. These are universal objectives that merit bi-partisan consideration in any national energy policy. IDEA looks forward to working with members of Congress and the Administration on the optimization of CHP/district energy as an important clean energy strategy for our country” Rob Thornton added.

IDEA ( serves as a vital information hub for the district energy industry and combined heat and power industries, connecting industry professionals and advancing the technology around the world. With headquarters just outside of Boston, Mass., the 1,500-member IDEA was founded in 1909 and comprises district heating and cooling system executives, managers, engineers, consultants and equipment suppliers from 25 countries. IDEA supports the growth and utilization of district energy as a means to conserve fuel and increase energy efficiency to improve the global environment.

International District Energy Association
24 Lyman St. Suite 230
Westborough, MA 01581


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