I hope that all of you who joined us for the 25th Annual Campus Energy Conference in Crystal City, Va. were energized during a very full five days of activities. Available to us were the Distribution and Business Development Workshops, a full house of business partner exhibits, technical tours and, of course, the Main Event - a program of nearly sixty presentations and panel discussions for an audience of more than 650 people. Once again, IDEA provided a vehicle to exchange information and establish relationships to bring back to our day jobs.
If the conference itself weren't enough, we just happened to be together for one of the more exciting Super Bowls in recent memory. As I looked around the room, I saw many fellow members in their home-team attire. There were the obvious die-hard fans, the out-of-the-Super-Bowl (but still loyal) fans, and even a few just-partying fans. There were even reports of civil conversations between Patriots and Giants fans. But as the game went on, and we enjoyed some of those $3.5 million television commercials, I couldn't help but think how IDEA value measured up. At those rates, it would cost about $1.25 billion to sit with a roomful of district energy people for three hours.
IDEA members have long been known for the professional spirit and camaraderie that prevailed during the Super Bowl. So it is only fitting that we continue to explore the benefits and viability of a mutual assistance program for district energy. Our request for interest resulted in a wide response from conference attendees and other members who were not able to join us. One month later, as I write this article, our hearts are with those areas of the nation that are assessing damage from the latest attacks. Another round of natural disasters, this time in the form of tornados, has destroyed entire towns and heavily damaged others. I immediately thought of our IDEA members near the affected areas. As we draft a mutual assistance agreement, we have received valuable input from members, including templates for agreements that are now in place on a local level. This input is greatly appreciated as we move this effort along. Would you find value in a program that offered help when you most needed it?
We continue to make progress on production of the Community Energy Guide. As you may know, IDEA and several sponsors are working with author Michael King on a version of the guide for the U.S. market. As I talk to prospective customers and community leaders, I am still surprised at how little is known about the existence of district energy. Meetings in Crystal City and subsequent conference calls are moving us closer to a finished product. This publication will surely help promote district energy and CHP by providing the type of information that developers and planners require when making energy decisions. We are on schedule for June 2012 completion.
In national news, we are by now all aware of Energy Secretary Chu's testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the Department of Energy proposed 2013 budget. His comment that the DOE is "bullish on CHP" was music to our members' ears as he listed the advantages of CHP. It was after touring TECO, an IDEA member system, that the Secretary drew this conclusion. We are also encouraged by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman's (D-N.M.) recognition of the efficiency and economic advantages of CHP and useful thermal energy in his Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012. So maybe the secret is getting out. District energy and CHP will play an important role in many of our nation's current issues, so it is only appropriate that we look forward to seeing you in Chicago for our 103rd Annual Conference and Trade Show - "Cooler, Cleaner Cities." The conference will run from June 29 to July 2.
In closing, please join me in congratulating IDEA Past Chair David Toombs on his retirement from Citizens Thermal. IDEA thanks Dave for his long-term commitment to the organization and the district energy industry. We wish Dave and Joan many years of happy and healthy retirement!