Chair's Update 2nd Quarter 2014

By Patti Wilson posted 06-25-2017 19:08


Our 27th Annual Campus Conference, recently held in Atlanta, Ga., was an enormous success, with over 625 attendees from North America and beyond! The educational workshops and programs were exceptional, covering a broad range of topics including community energy, solar trigeneration, free cooling, creative financing, water savings, microgrids and resiliency. As we continue to see, the way energy is being provided and delivered on campuses is rapidly changing, and the conference program reflected new strategies for delivering clean, efficient and resilient energy. Our campus members have an intense commitment to continuous optimization of their energy systems and their enthusiasm was amply demonstrated throughout the conference.


Communicating the value of district energy is more important than ever, and so it was fun to see how college students tackled that challenge in the Third Annual Campus Energy Video Contest! Each year the quality of the entries improves, making the board’s job of selecting the winner all the more difficult. Congratulations to the students from University of Cincinnati, winner of this year’s competition, for their creativity and effort. Last, thank you to our generous sponsors, business partners and especially our hosts at Emory University and Georgia Tech who welcomed us to your beautiful campuses.


Among the key topics at the conference were distributed generation and microgrids, which can provide efficient, clean energy, enhance local resiliency and improve the operation and stability of the regional electric grid. However, regulatory burdens at the state and federal levels are inhibiting widespread implementation of microgrids. Several long-standing IDEA members, determined to break down these regulatory barriers, have come together to establish the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC). Its main goal is to seek support for microgrid implementation by advocating for appropriate laws, regulations and tariffs. The MRC’s initial efforts will focus on fair regulatory treatment through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As Tom Nyquist, MRC chair and executive director of engineering and campus energy for Princeton University stated, “The MRC focus is on advocacy, not technology. The MRC is completely technology-agnostic. We are doing this for the benefit of all technologies. We are at a tipping point and need a seat at the table.” I encourage you to read the article on p. 24 and visit the MRC website,, to better understand the MRC’s initiatives that will complement the efforts of IDEA.


With the 105th Annual Conference and Trade Show fast approaching, this is my last article for the magazine as IDEA chair. It will soon be my pleasure to hand the gavel to my friend and colleague, Ken Smith, president and CEO of District Energy St. Paul. I want to thank the IDEA board of directors, and the members of the executive committee in particular, for their time and support this past year. I will continue working with all of you in the year ahead, helping to advance our industry in today’s environment that offers unprecedented challenges and opportunities alike.


IDEA succeeds because of our shared interest in achieving results. Our conferences provide the perfect forums to learn from each other so that we can return home with new ideas, solutions and professional contacts. In that spirit, I invite you to join us in Seattle for our 105th Annual Conference and Trade Show, June 8-11. Seattle is one of our country’s greenest cities, and we are indebted to our host, Seattle Steam, for welcoming us to their city. Our conference theme – which has also been my theme as IDEA chair – is “Moving Community Energy Forward.” The concept of distributed generation, microgrids and community energy has really taken off this year and I hope to see our efforts continue.


Patti Wilson
Chair, 2013-14

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