Here are examples illustrating when YOU made a difference by contacting your Senators and Representatives to encourage their support on bills pertinent to the district energy/CHP industry.









March 11 and 12, 2010: Members took action to support funding for District Energy!

In the Senate, two letters were being circulated to the entire Senate by Senators Sanders, Begich, M. Udall, Wyden, Shaheen, Leahy and Merkley--please click on the links to download the letters in Microsoft® Word: 

The first letter requests a total of $300 million for two grant programs authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Sections 471 and 451) which are strongly advocated by IDEA.  The second letter supports the $5 million budgeted by the President for the Community Wood Energy program.

In the House, similar request letters are being circulated to all House members by Representatives Welch, Van Hollen, Michaud and Hodes:

Here's What Members Did:

1. Clicked on www.congress.org

Under "Get Involved", typed in zip code and clicked "Go".  This brought them to a page with links to the offices of their members of Congress.

For their Representative and for each Senator:

  • Clicked on their name.
  • Clicked on the "Contact" tab.
  • Called the Washington office number and asked to speak to the Legislative Aide (LA) responsible for Energy.
  • Asked that the Senator or Representative sign on to the Senate or House letters.  Why? The letters do a good job of explaining the rationale, but if they were asked "why?" added that these programs will help create energy systems that tap energy in our own backyards - from renewable energy and waste heat recovery. That helps both the environment and jobs.
  • If the LA is not in, leave a voicemail.

If you have any questions, please call Rob Thornton, IDEA President (508-366-9339 or 508-254-7369 cell) or Mark Spurr, IDEA Legislative Director (612-607-4544).

Climate/Energy Bill S.1621 — District Energy/CHP featured in Senate Amendment

On Thursday August 8, 2009, Senator Sanders (I-VT) introduced Senate Bill S. 1621, the Thermal Energy Efficiency Act, which was co-sponsored by Senator Merkley (D-OR).


This legislation would dedicate 2% of revenues from climate change legislation to fund combined heat and power (CHP), waste energy recovery, and district energy projects. Based on various estimates, this could mean between $1 billion and $1.5 billion per year for clean energy infrastructure.

The Thermal Energy Efficiency Act would provide 40% of its funding for institutional entities (defined as public or non-profit hospitals, local and state governments, school districts and higher education facilities, tribal governments, municipal utilities, or their designees), 40% for commercial and industrial entities, and 20% to be used in the discretion of the Secretary of Energy to fund institutional entity projects, commercial and industrial projects, or federal facility projects. A match is required of all non-federal applicants, starting at 25% from 2012-2017, and rising to 50% from 2018-2050.

The breakdown of how the money would be used is: 75% for construction of infrastructure, 15% for planning, engineering, and feasibility studies, and the remaining 10% to be used at the discretion of the Secretary for either infrastructure or planning, depending on the need.



Thermal energy and CHP have been long neglected in national energy policy but offer a huge opportunity for efficiency and emissions reduction using today’s technology. CHP can be used with a variety of fuel sources, including coal, natural gas, geothermal, biomass, oil, and waste.

According to the Department of Energy, moving from having 9% of our electric power as CHP today to 20% by 2030 would:

  • Avoid 60% of our projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions (equivalent to taking half of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. today off the road),
  • Create more than 1 million new jobs, and
  • Leverage new investments of $234 billion.

In order to achieve this, however, we need to increase long-term funding support for these systems. DOE has a stimulus-related funding application for $156 million for CHP, waste energy, and district energy. They have received 359 applications for projects valued at $9.2 billion. This represents a 25 to 1 ratio in terms of funding need to federal funding available. Based on the federal match, this shows that additional federal funding could leverage billions in state, local, and private sector dollars if more federal funding was available.


RELATED AMENDMENT – Appropriations for EISA

On July 26, Senator Sanders presented Amendment 1903 to Senate Energy & Water Appropriations committee, which was passed.  It directs the Department of Energy Industrial Technologies Program to make $15 million available for the Section 399A of EISA, supporting technical and feasibility assessments for district energy and CHP.
Click here to download a copy of the Amendment.


WHAT’S NEXT – IDEA member support and contacting legislators

IDEA members, particularly in states with Senators on the Environment & Public Works Committee, are urged to contact their senators and representatives to seek support for Amendment 1903 and co-sponsorship and support for S. 1621.  IDEA staff contacted key constituents to garner specific support during August recess. It is essential that we gain support over the coming weeks and months.

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