Chair's Update 3rd Quarter 2014

By Ken Smith posted 06-25-2017 19:10


Seattle is only two months behind us, but the ripple effect of our time together is already visible in our industry. At this year's 105th annual conference, we challenged each other with observations of the dramatic changes under way in the energy industry that are increasing the demand for integrated solutions. The conference and our association give us a forum to identify solutions to meet these changing demands and deliver increased system efficiency and resiliency. We were enlightened by the outside perspective of the former deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, Heather Zichal. Her strong support of our industry captures the reason we are experiencing growing opportunities globally. During our time together we were also immersed in the latest developments for community energy, technology innovation and alternative fuel sources, most notably biomass - thanks to the efforts of our host system, Seattle Steam.

From the important discussions at this year's conference, it is clear that the leader­ship of our organization is strong and pushing us hard to expand our presence in the energy industry. Serving as vice chair to Patti Wilson this past year, I have been impressed by her commitment to community energy and her efforts to introduce IDEA to a broader audi­ence. Patti is a tenacious leader and a valuable ambassador on our behalf. I'm grateful for the momentum she provided and humbled by the opportunity to pick up where she leaves off.

In Seattle, I introduced the theme, "Inspir­ing the Next Generation." This platform rep­resents our opportunities to shape the next evolution of power generation and accelerate the next generation of community energy sys­tems. This motivation and influence is critical to provide the innovation we need to serve our communities and campuses well into the future. It also highlights our pressing need to attract a new generation of talented leaders to whom we can pass along our legacy. This quarter I want to focus on the emerging op­portunities in the electricity generation sector.

Our industry has been a long-standing and vocal advocate for our ability to strength­en local electrical grids and change the wasteful trajectory of our power generation systems. Some countries and regions have led by taking early action to reduce their carbon emissions, embracing the use of district en­ergy and combined heat and power. In other locations, including the U.S., the efficiency of power generation has remained largely stagnant. Despite missed opportunities and sporadic efforts, government leaders are currently exploring remedies to increase the resilience of our energy systems to withstand extreme weather events. With more countries taking important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power generation sector, we must be engaged in shaping the outcome of those efforts. We currently have an important opportunity to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's draft 111(d) rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

Our industry is an integral part of the broader energy system, with capabilities and potential that intersect every energy sector. To be successful, we each must take a leadership role in shaping the future by participating in the energy conversation occurring at the local and regional levels. We can be influential and effective by sharing our stories and best prac­tices so decision makers can see the versatil­ity of our industry's proven solutions and how they fit into the broader energy system.

I believe there has never been a more important time in the history of our industry to be an inspiration to others. The message was clear in Seattle: Now is the time for us to take action to shape the future of energy. District heating and cooling, CHP, thermal stor­age, thermal grids, smart grids and microgrids are relevant solutions that are fundamentally necessary for the successful transformation of the electricity sector.

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