District Energy St. Paul

District Energy St. Paul is a very unique utility that generates heating, cooling, and electricity for the community. Most people recognize the big plant next to the Science Museum, but don’t know that there are lots of great things happening on that small site. Pipes run from that building to hundreds of buildings in downtown Saint Paul, providing them with heating and cooling. The heat comes from the waste heat leftover from the process of power production, which also utilizes waste wood as it’s main fuel. This process is called combined heat and power. And the waste wood fuel is often called biomass. Combined heat and power is twice as efficient as standard energy production and helps District Energy St. Paul provide its customers with heat that is over 60% renewable.

Standing on the sidewalk of West Kellogg Blvd, you will see trucks carrying in loads of wood chips. The plant uses over 200,000 tons of tree trimmings in the form of wood chips from the area each year to displace fossil fuels and generate heat and electricity. While you can’t see the pipes underground, District Energy consists of a network of pipes located below the streets and sidewalks, serving over 200 buildings with hot water and chilled water to efficiently heat and cool downtown Saint Paul throughout the year. What you can see from West Kellogg Boulevard is the 2.5 million gallon tank of water that is used to store chilled water to dispatch to the city This technology is referred to as “thermal storage” and it basically serves as a water-based battery. When you are on West Kellogg Boulevard, you can also learn exactly how this community energy system works through a window display explaining what’s happening inside.

Visit districtenergy.com for more information.