State and Local Policy Database

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems

District energy and combined heat and power (CHP) systems offer opportunities for communities to dramatically decrease the energy used in buildings and energy intensive processes. Buildings served by a district energy system often do not need their own heating and cooling equipment, and instead rely on efficient generation serving larger populations. When combined with CHP, also known as cogeneration, district energy systems can also offer an efficient source of electricity that is highly reliable. While many district energy and CHP systems are privately owned, cities can help foster this infrastructure through policy.

This sub-category includes information on three topics: total megawatts of CHP capacity in the city (from the Combined Heat and Power Installation Database); number of district energy systems which integrate CHP in the city (from IDEA); level of planning undertaken for future district energy systems with CHP.

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

There are currently no district energy systems in Arlington County, however, the Community Energy Plan calls for the development of 450MW of district energy by 2050.  Additionally, Arlington County has mapped the energy density of the whole community to identify areas for potential district energy systems.

Last updated: May 2017

Atlanta allows solar by-right accessory use in all zones so that solar systems do not require special permits. The city has also streamlined its permitting process for solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Aurora streamlines permitting for small solar PV systems. The city has allowed solar use in all zones.

Last updated: March 2019

Austin Energy operates the Downtown Central Business Cooling Plant and Mueller Redevelopment Cooling, Heating, and Power Plant. Austin Energy also offers residential customers the option to enroll in a community solar program.

Last updated: March 2019

Bakersfield streamlined its solar permitting process for systems less than 10 kW.

Last updated: March 2019

The Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant currently has one megawatt of solar capacity installed and two megawatts of combined heat and power capacity.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Through Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Smart Utilities Policy for Article 80 Development Review, developments over 1.5 million square feet are required to develop a Feasibility Assessment to determine the viability of district energy microgrids and combined heat and power for their project site.

The city also amended its zoning code to allow for the installation of wind energy facilities.

Last updated: March 2019

There are no district energy systems in Boulder.  Boulder’s combined heat and power capacity is 114,000 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 117 MW. 

Last updated: October 2015

The City of Bridgeport established an Energy Improvement District in accordance to House Bill 7432. The Energy Improvement District is overseen by a 7-member board consisting of the city's chief administrative officer (or his/her designee), director of planning and economic development (or his/her designee), the director of public facilities (or his/her designee), and four electors or representatives of businesses within the boundaries of the district. Bridgeport also offers property tax exemptions for cogeneration systems that are a part of a microgrid and serve municipal buildings.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Buffalo operates a district heating system that serves both public and private buildings. The city recently completed a feasibility study and thermal analysis for expanding the system.

Last updated: March 2019

Evergreen Energy is planning a CHP project in Burlington. 

Last updated: October 2015

Carrboro does not have district energy systems or combined heat and power facilities.

Last updated: April 2014

Charlotte installed a combined heat and power facility at the McAlpine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Last updated: March 2019

There is one district energy system in Charlottesville, but we could not locate information on the system’s capacity.  Charlottesville does not have combined heat and power facilities. 

Last updated: October 2015

Chicago issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) to install solar farms on seven lots owned by the city. Some of these systems will offer community solar subscriptions.

Last updated: March 2019

The city has not independently adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems. 

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Cincinnati currently has 1.8 MW of solar installed on city-owned buildings. The city is also in the process of procuring 25 MW of solar to serve municipal load.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Cleveland supports two district energy systems operated by the Cleveland Thermal and Medical Center Company.

The city also updated zoning codes to promote the development of wind energy facilities and maximize use of the city’s wind resources.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Denver and Xcel Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) titled the Energy Futures Collaboration. The MOU cites microgrid deployment, district energy installation, and other approaches as integral to achieving the city’s climate and energy goals.

The city is also creating a low-income solar garden located at the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

There are no district energy systems in Dubuque.  Dubuque’s combined heat and power capacity is 9,000 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 17 MW. 

Last updated: October 2013

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Article XIV of the Hartford Municipal Code created the Energy Improvement District (EID). The purpose of the EID and its board is to enter contracts for the creation of several distributed energy resources.

Hartford also amended the city’s zoning code to promote the installation of renewable energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Keeping in line with Environmental Law Institute standards, the city amended its zoning code to allow for wind energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Honolulu has issued a Request for Proposal for the construction of a seawater air conditioning project for city-owned buildings in the downtown area.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Houston fast-tracks solar panel permits for residential properties.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

JEA, Jacksonville’s municipal utility, has created and operates several district energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Kansas City has installed solar on 58 city-owned buildings.

Last updated: March 2019

There is one district energy system in Knoxville, but we could not locate information on the system’s capacities.  Knoxville’s combined heat and power capacity is 5,000 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 2.8 MW.  None of the district energy systems integrate CHP.

Last updated: October 2013

Through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Providers Program, the city has installed 90 kW and 50 kW systems and maintains two other solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Lawrence does not have district energy systems or combined heat and power facilities.

Last updated: October 2013

The Port of Long Beach created the Energy Island Initiative, which sets goals of consuming energy from clean sources and installing local, distributed energy with microgrid connectivity. Through the initiative, solar panels have been installed on port facilities, and plans are in place to create a microgrid as the location.

Last updated: March 2019

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the city’s municipal utility, created the Solar Rooftops Program (SRP). Through the program, LADWP installs and owns solar systems on customer rooftops and provides households with a lease credit of $30 per month. SRP intends to install 400 solar systems over three years.

LADWP has also created a community solar pilot program. The utility has committed to installing ten megawatts of solar capacity to support the pilot. 

Last updated: March 2019

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

There are four district energy systems serving Madison, but we could not locate information on the systems’ capacities.  Madison’s combined heat and power capacity is 187,600 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 80.4 MW.  One of the district energy systems integrates with CHP.

Last updated: October 2013

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Mesa has installed several solar energy systems on municipal buildings.

Last updated: March 2019

The city waives permitting fees and expedites permits for residential solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Milwaukee allows solar by-right accessory use in all zones and has streamlined its permitting process for small solar PV systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Nashville provided land at no cost to Nashville Electric Service, the city’s municipally-owned utility, for the installation of a community solar farm

The General Services Design and Construction Guidelines require developments include renewable energy technologies “as early as possible during the design phase.”

Last updated: March 2019

New Haven provides online permitting for solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

New York City is currently building a district heating system and microgrid at the Red Hook East and West public housing complexes.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Oakland has partnered with University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, and NASA Ames Research Center to launch the EcoBlock pilot project. The project focuses on the block-scale efficiency of a solar-powered DC microgrid.

The city also provides a streamlined processing for solar permits.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Orlando’s municipal utility, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), offers district energy services through OUCooling. The program delivers air conditioning more efficiently to building participants.

OUC customers may also enroll in a community solar program or participate in the utility’s solar bulk purchasing program OUCollective.

Last updated: March 2019

CHP planning in Park City is conucted as part of the Georgetown University Energy Prize Assessment. 

Last updated: October 2015

The Philadelphia Energy Authority launched the Philadelphia Energy Campaign which seeks to invest $1 billion into energy efficiency and clean energy projects over ten years.

Last updated: March 2019

The city currently houses a 14,000-ton capacity district cooling system that provides chilled water to 34 buildings including the Phoenix Convention Center and baseball stadium.

The City has installed 32MW of solar energy on City parking lots, the airport, landfill, libraries and a water treatment plant. Phoenix Transit Department partnered with SRP in a $1 million project to install solar panels on parking lot coverings.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Pittsburgh currently has two district steam systems and three institutional district energy system, while the city identified four additional opportunities to install district energy systems or microgrids.  The city has also signed a Memo of Understanding with the Danish Energy and Climate Agency to develop the Pittsburgh District Energy Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to create one of the most sustainable energy systems in North America. 

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Providence has amended the city’s zoning code to better encourage solar installation. The city has also streamlined its solar permitting process.

The City’s wastewater treatment plant has invested into wind, solar, and biogas combined heat and power. The plant is on track to use 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems, but Planning Raleigh 2030 includes action items that state the intention to promote on-site renewable energy, community-supported energy sources, and cogeneration.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of Sacramento has installed 4.9 megawatts of solar photovoltaic on city-owned facilities.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) runs SolarShares, an off-site community solar program. The program is open to the City of Sacramento and institutional partners but has now opened enrollment to commercial energy buyers.  

Last updated: March 2019

St. Paul has the largest district energy system in North America. The system provides heating and cooling to most buildings in the downtown area.

The city adopted a solar zoning ordinance.

Last updated: March 2019

St. Petersburg approved of a biosolids and waste to energy project that includes the use of combined heat and power.

The city also entered into an agreement with Duke Energy for the installation of on-site solar panels on the St. Pete Pier. The city also has a policy to install solar panels on parks department facilities.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

CPS Energy provides technical and planning assistance for residential and commercial systems, but we could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The City of San Francisco amended its Green Building Code to require all new buildings of 10 floors or less to install solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, and/or incorporate a living roof plan on at least 15% of roof area.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Seattle City Light installed a solar-plus-storage microgrid at the Miller Community Center. The utility plans to use the project as a test case to understand the resilience benefits of the system.

Seattle City Light has developed 5 Community Solar projects with cumulative generating capacity of 170 kW. The utility supports renewable energy deployment through its Green Up program. The program awarded grants to schools, affordable housing complexes, parks, and hospitals to install on-site solar.

Last updated: March 2019

The city is piloting a community solar program at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.     

Last updated: March 2019

Tucson has installed several solar energy and hot water systems on municipal buildings.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2019

The District’s Solar for All program aims to expand access to solar power to low-income residents. The program partners with organizations to install on-site solar on single-family homes and community solar projects. For residents to be eligible for participation, household income must be less than 80% of the area median income. 

Last updated: March 2019

Worcester currently has 10.5 megawatts of solar capacity spanning 15 installations. The city placed 10 solar systems on public schools and one has placed on top of a former landfill.

Last updated: March 2019