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Citizens Provides Sound Energy Solutions for Fast-Growing IUPUI

Citizens Energy Group is providing reliable, flexible and cost-effective energy solutions that are helping one of the state’s fastest growing universities continue its key role in Indiana’s economic development.

Faced with an ever tightening state budget and limited space on its sprawling downtown campus, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is enjoying a variety of benefits from the steam and chilled water services provided by Citizens, according to Emily Wren, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facilities at IUPUI. A steam customer of Citizens' for more than 20 years, IUPUI began receiving chilled water services from the utility in 1994.

“In addition to running out of space, we had to weigh the capital spending requirements of maintaining our own energy facilities against the more pressing capital requirements of our core education and research facilities. Citizens has delivered operational cost savings as well,” explained Wren when discussing why IUPUI chose Citizens for its steam and chilled water needs.

While cost savings are important, Citizens also has provided reliable, high quality service. “Reliability is our biggest issue when it comes to energy, especially at The IU School of Medicine and the affiliated IU Health facilities. The various patient care and health research facilities have very specific environmental requirements when it comes to heat and humidity. Citizens has provided critical reliability while meeting our specific performance standards,” Wren said.

Other benefits IUPUI has realized through choosing Citizens Thermal include:

  • Not having to compete with private industry to hire highly technical energy-related personnel.

  • Not having to devote time and resources to government permitting of energy-related facilities.

  • Not having to research the fast-changing energy market conditions critical to making wise fuel choices.

Wren emphasized that the service provided by Citizens has been outstanding because of its people. “The people at Citizens have worked with us in a collaborative way to ensure that our energy needs are being met,” Wren said.

Wren believes Citizens is also a good business partner for IUPUI because it is operated under a Public Trust.

“Because Citizens is owned by a trust, I don’t have to worry about whether it will be owned by some out-of-town company or driven by a strategy that stresses service to stockholders over customers," said Wren.

Citizens reliably serves Indiana Convention Center 

One day they may be hosting 1,000 people for a sit-down dinner and the next it’s 50,000 lively Colts football fans. While the logistics of such events are always complicated, the staff at the Indiana Convention Center never has to worry about the comfort level in the 1.9 million-square-foot facility, thanks to Citizens Thermal.

Whether it’s the dog days of August or the frigid nights of January, the Convention Center staff knows Citizens will keep its guests comfortable.

“If you are in a meeting with a thousand people and it’s too hot or too cold, that’s all you can think about. If we can’t provide a comfortably warm or cool environment, then it doesn’t matter if the facility is clean and the food is good,” said Barney Levengood, Director of the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board. 

Not having to worry about heating and cooling service helps the facility’s staff focus on its primary mission. “Like any small business, we have to sell it, market it and do everything from legal issues, and accounting to personnel and delivering products and services. We are at the center of a $1.6 billion entertainment industry in Central Indiana. The challenge is to deliver top quality service and have our customers come back,” Levengood explained.

Citizens provides comfortable environment for War Memorials and Legion

Faced with the costly replacement of air conditioning equipment at the American Legion’s national headquarters facility, Bill Sweeney, Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorial, knew Citizens could provide an outstanding cooling solution yielding significant long-term savings.

Sweeney manages the facility needs of the Indiana War Memorial Building, which towers over Michigan and Meridian Streets, and the adjoining American Legion National Headquarters and Indiana American Legion Headquarters, located to the north. He also manages the facility needs of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument on the Circle Downtown. The State of Indiana owns and manages the memorials and leases buildings to the American Legion.

During the late 1990s, Citizens began providing steam and chilled water to the Indiana War Memorial and steam only to the Legion facilities and the Soldiers & Sailors Monument.

“Prior to that time, the War Memorial was heated with boilers and cooled with window air conditioning units. This resulted in pretty uneven heating and cooling throughout the facility. Converting to steam and chilled water for heating and cooling the War Memorial has proven to be a great decision and convinced us the chilled water expansion made sense for the Legion facilities,” Sweeney said.

Citizens recently completed a chilled water system expansion that will provide central cooling to the American Legion facilities and to the expanded Central Library located to the north of the Legion facilities. “We were able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement with Citizens that helped us obtain chilled water for the Legion facilities, while facilitating the easement expansion Citizens needed to grow its system further north,” Sweeney explained.

Using Citizens for its heating and cooling needs will help the War Memorial and Legion facilities achieve long-term savings, which result largely from reduced costs for capital equipment and maintenance. “Not having to replace and maintain heating and cooling equipment provides significant savings to the facilities over the next 20 years,” Sweeney said.

These savings are especially important for the operating and maintenance budgets of the various facilities. “During good economic times the state is able to fund capital improvements, but it’s often more difficult to get capital improvements funded during difficult economic times, like those we’ve seen recently. Having central heating and cooling from Citizens helps us focus our capital improvement budget requests on other priorities such as the new air handling and electrical upgrades we will be installing at the Legion facilities this summer. In fact, the chilled water expansion helped us avoid having to spend about $400,000 to replace the old central cooling units at the Legion facilities,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney knows maintaining a comfortable environment is important for memorial visitors and the treasured memories they come to view. “Having a centralized source of steam and chilled water has enabled us to achieve a more comfortable and consistent environment throughout the memorials and the American Legion facilities. This benefits not only our employees and visitors, but it helps us preserve the many sensitive documents, military uniforms and other materials on display at the memorials.”