I hope that all of you who joined us in Toronto for the 102nd Annual Conference and Trade Show enjoyed your stay north of the border and, more importantly, came away with useful information, some new leads and new friends. We thank Dennis Fotinos and his staff at Enwave for being great hosts for the first-ever joint conference with the Canadian District Energy Association (CDEA). Our sincere appreciation for an excellent program goes to Laxmi Rao of IDEA, our technical co-chairs Richard Damecour of FVB Energy and Johnathan Coleman of JA Coleman LLC and all the speakers and panelists who willingly volunteered to share their experiences. I also want to recognize my predecessor, David Toombs, for his work as chairman during the past year. Well-attended and technically superior conferences were held in Indianapolis - where Dave was both host and incoming chair - and in Miami. We look forward to continuing to draw upon Dave's extensive experience in the district energy industry in his role as Past Chair.
The IDEA annual conference was unique in that two strong organizations partnered to ensure that we got the most out of the venue. New relationships were formed and, by now, have hopefully borne fruit. This concept of working together is in line with my theme for the upcoming year: District Energy Exchange (DEX).
As do so many people, for better or worse, we take our jobs personally. In that respect, membership in the IDEA is, in a way, similar to a club membership. Whether we are exchanging information by presenting at an IDEA conference or picking up the phone and calling a fellow member, we are usually sharing thoughts that are near and dear to us. That includes both our success stories and our occasional confessions.
When a major incident occurs in our industry, we usually don't have to do much for the word to get out, as the media will see to that. Fortunately, these incidents are infrequent, because maximizing safety is a core part of our business. Unfortunately, there are many near misses that have the same or even greater potential for injury or property damage. These occurrences will often "fly under the radar." Think of the educational opportunities lost when we make a mental note of what happened and promise ourselves to not let it happen again. Taking the time to go through a root cause analysis, lessons-learned process and action plan to prevent a recurrence will undoubtedly pay dividends. Transparency will also go a long way with our customers, the local engineers who make energy decisions and our municipal leaders. Going one step farther and sharing what we learn with our peers will pay additional dividends in the district energy community.
Up to now, we have focused mainly on the sharing of experiences. Could we take this one more step and share our most valuable resource - our people? Regardless of our planning efforts and best intentions, there may well be a time when we find ourselves in an untenable position. How often have we seen a fleet of bucket trucks heading down I-95 to help an electric company after some natural disaster? Would a similar mutual aid arrangement benefit district energy companies? We recently heard from members interested in exploring the viability of a mutual aid agreement, wherein IDEA member systems will agree to share resources or expertise to support another member system in need, whether it is from a hurricane, an ice storm, or even worse, a terrorist event. As an industry association with over 102 years of shared common interests, we think it makes sense to explore how we can better support each other, should the need arise. Although we may operate systems of various vintages, we may all benefit from such an arrangement.
Many of us are proud of the job we have done to extend the life of mature systems so they continue to operate safely and reliably. However, we are falling short if we neglect to include system efficiency with our other major areas of emphasis. The number of systems yet to adopt combined heat and power (CHP) is an indicator that there is still much work to be done to better position district energy for the twenty-first century.
As chairman, I will work with President Rob Thornton, our board and members who share a common interest in these various initiatives. Together, we will continue to work together toward our common goals.
Vincent Badali#ChairsCorner #2011 #Q3