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St. Paul District Energy to stop using coal for downtown buildings — in 2021

District Energy will use more wood and solar to runs its central system that heats and cools many downtown buildings.

St. Paul’s District Energy, which heats and cools many downtown St. Paul buildings through a central system, says it will stop using coal in 2021.

Coal currently makes up about one-third of the system’s fuel; wood from tree cuttings is its biggest source, with some solar energy also used.

District Energy heats 200 buildings and cools 100 buildings in downtown and the nearby neighborhoods through its system. 

Officials say the elimination of coal will cut the heating systems carbon dioxide emissions by 27 percent.

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Ken Smith, CEO and President of District Energy St. Paul. said:

Cities are the largest contributor to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. It is our responsibility as a community energy system to find innovative solutions that lessen our impact, improve local resilience, and help create a city prepared for the future. The elimination of coal is an important step in the evolution of our business, and we are already looking ahead to our next opportunity to save energy and reduce climate impacts.

Anne Hunt, St. Paul’s environmental policy director, told Midwest Energy News that the change fits well with the city’s sustainability initiative. She said: “It’s pretty significant that District Energy is voluntarily transitioning off coal.”

And she said the “proactive step to reduce carbon emissions is a really big deal.”