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Kaiser Permanente to Install Solar Power Systems at 15 Facilities

KaisersolarKaiser Permanente has plans to deploy 15 megawatts (MW) of solar power across 15 facilities in California by the summer of 2011 in partnership with Recurrent Energy. The solar project is claimed as one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care.

The solar power purchase agreement project will provide on average 10 percent of the power needed to run the buildings at these sites, which include Vallejo and Santa Clara medical centers in Northern California, and Fontana and San Diego medical centers in Southern California.

Kaiser is expected to spend $95.6 million over 20 years for power from the solar panels, which is nearly equal to what it would spend to buy electricity from the grid, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is the first step in Kaiser’s plan to use onsite renewable energy sources to power its buildings nationwide, which is part of the company’s larger focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harmful chemicals and promoting sustainable food choices.

As examples, the company saves more than $10 million per year through energy conservation measures, and plans to use sustainable design and construction practices on all new construction projects. The company has also eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals.

The company was also the first healthcare organization to become a Climate Action Leader, certifying its greenhouse gas emissions inventory with the California Climate Action Registry in 2007.

Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser’s environmental stewardship officer told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company wants to use onsite, renewable energy for 25 percent of its electricity needs by 2020. If this project is successful, it could be replicated across other facilities, she said.

Kaiser Permanente inked a 20-year power purchase agreement with Recurrent Energy, which will own and operate all of the solar power systems, with the help of Citigroup, an equity investor on a portion of the projects. Kaiser Permanente will retain all the Renewable Energy Credits awarded for these solar projects.

Recurrent Energy targets small-scale projects of up to 20 megawatts, and has more than 1 gigawatt of projects in the pipeline in the United States, Canada and Europe, reports Reuters.

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