Our 104th annual conference in Miami was a resounding networking and educational success. And, who doesn't love to people-watch on beautiful South Beach! The program was the finest I've ever seen, jam-packed with expert panels, workshops, educational sessions and technical tours. Our impressive exhibit hall provided the perfect backdrop for reuniting with old friends and creating new ones. We were privileged to formalize our relationship with delegates from the Chinese District Energy Association, another example of IDEA's leadership in the international district energy community.
My friend and past chair, Joe Brillhart, contributed extensively to our organization during his term as chair. Teamed with Rob Thornton, he visited and significantly reinvigorated the Middle East region, many of whose members joined us in Miami. Joe also spearheaded the first annual IDEA Innovation Award, a competitive and highly visible way to showcase unique technologies, operations or optimization developments within our industry. I look forward to continuing to learn from and work with Joe in the year ahead. Thank you, Joe, for your important contributions which will be appreciated for years to come.
To introduce my theme for this upcoming year, "Moving Community Energy Forward," I'll begin with a quote from Bono's 2013 TED Talk: "Something as powerful as information and the sharing of it can challenge [society] ... because facts want to be free. An evidence-based activist is a factivist." Facts tell us what's working and what's not. In our industry, the facts are telling us that district energy, microgrids and community energy with CHP is working.
FACT: Community energy is efficient. The world-class CHP system in Avedore, Copenhagen operates at 90 percent efficiency, and here in the U.S., UT Austin operates at 88 percent efficiency (based on LHV).
FACT: Community energy is economical. It aggregates the power and thermal energy loads of multiple buildings for greater buying power and system diversity. It can attract businesses to a local area because it can provide a reliable energy system utilizing local resources, such as wood, waste, solar, wind or lake cooling.
FACT: Community energy is resilient. Communities want and need resilient systems that can provide operational continuity. When Superstorm Sandy hit, those communities that had developed resilient energy systems incorporating CHP stayed operational during and after the storm.
FACT: Community energy with CHP is environmentally friendly. Communities are looking for ways to operate greener and more sustainably while simultaneously reducing GHG emissions.
FACT: IDEA is a player at the table. We are propelling our message forward by taking part in crafting legislation to help mitigate the high capital costs of developing community energy systems, including the Local Energy Supply and Resiliency Act (LESRA) and the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (MLPPA). IDEA is also co-organizing the Third Global District Energy Climate Awards, to be held in September in New York City. This event coincides with Climate Week and will raise the profile of district energy for greater policy recognition to ensure continuous investment in and expansion of our industry.
I recently had the chance to step out of my comfort zone to meet with my U.S. senator, Ben Cardin. He was truly interested in community energy and understood why we need his support for LESRA and MLPPA. I have to admit that initially, I was a little apprehensive about visiting my senator. But it ended up being a refreshing, eye-opening experience. So this year, let's each do something outside of our comfort zone. Visit your senator or mayor or urban planner. Give them a copy of our Community Energy Development Guide and explain the facts. Externalize your IDEA membership and remember our acronym I-D-E-A can also stand for: I-Deliver-Energy-Answers. This is our year to set the facts free and for each of us to grow as a factivist. "Moving Community Energy Forward" is our responsibility.
I am honored to be our association chair during this transformative time and will do my absolute best to work with you and our board to move community energy into the future.
See you in New York in September!
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