OAKLAND, Calif. — Committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente has agreed to deploy 15 megawatts of solar power in a deal that will put solar power systems at 15 facilities across the state by the summer of 2011. The agreement with Recurrent Energy, an independent power producer and a developer of solar power projects, launches one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care.
Installing solar panels on Kaiser Permanente hospitals, medical offices, and other buildings is the first part of a larger plan to use onsite renewable energy sources to power Kaiser Permanente’s buildings nationwide. A focus on renewable energy sources is just one aspect of the organization’s industry-leading work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of harmful chemicals, and promote sustainable food choices.
Photo rendering courtesy of Recurrent Energy: 1 MW elevated solar above existing parking garages at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center. View full image >
“What’s good for the environment is good for our health,” said Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. “By expanding the use of solar power, Kaiser Permanente is demonstrating its commitment to greening its energy portfolio and reducing its carbon footprint. Harnessing renewable energy to power the care we provide reflects our dedication to improving the health of our members and the communities we serve.”
Kaiser Permanente’s investment in solar power will both reduce the organization’s reliance on the public power grid and help it diversify its power sources. The 15 MW of solar power will provide part of the electricity needed to run the buildings at the sites, which include Vallejo and Santa Clara medical centers in Northern California, and Fontana and San Diego medical centers in Southern California.
The solar power systems will produce an average of 10 percent of the power Kaiser Permanente uses at these sites upon completion, equivalent to electricity used by about 1,900 homes a year.
Kaiser Permanente agreed to purchase the solar power through power purchase agreements with San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy, which will own and operate all of the solar power systems. Citigroup, an equity investor on a portion of the projects, was a key partner in structuring the agreements between Kaiser Permanente and Recurrent Energy. These agreements allow the not-for-profit health plan and hospital system to partner with a private entity that is eligible for a 30 percent tax credit available to private companies such as Recurrent Energy. Kaiser Permanente also will retain all the Renewable Energy Credits awarded for these solar projects.
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“With a massive need for clean energy generation located close to where power is actually used, customers like Kaiser Permanente are playing a key role to make the vision of distributed-scale solar a reality,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. “These solar power systems reaffirm the demand for distributed-scale projects, which can be aggregated together to generate a significant amount of power.”
This move is the latest in Kaiser Permanente’s long history of energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Sustainable design and construction practices, including the use of energy-saving infrastructure and non-toxic materials, are allowing Kaiser Permanente to build green and stay on budget.
“These solar agreements are a major step toward the goal of including a wide array of renewable sources in our energy portfolio,” said John Kouletsis, director of Strategy, Planning and Design for Kaiser Permanente’s National Facilities Services group. In the future, energy sources could include thermal energy, wind, and fuel cells in addition to solar.
As the result of green building efforts, Kaiser Permanente:
- Saves more than $10 million per year through energy conservation strategies. A leader in environmental health care and construction, Kaiser Permanente has committed to drastically reducing its use of fossil fuels and slowing energy growth over the next 10 years.
- Will use sustainable design and construction practices to complete roughly 6.7 million square feet of new construction in the next seven years.
- Eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals.
Before these agreements, Kaiser Permanente started using solar power when it opened one of the country’s “greenest” hospitals in Modesto, Calif. in 2008. That hospital’s solar panel array generates enough electricity to power 25 homes.
About Kaiser Permanente
About Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.