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US health group to install solar energy

A health care provider in California will install solar energy systems at 15 of its facilities in the state by next summer.

Kaiser Permanente will have the solar energy systems installed by Recurrent Energy of San Francisco. Total capacity will be 15 MW, sufficient to supply 11,250 homes.

“What's good for the environment is good for our health,” says Raymond Baxter of the company’s Community Benefit, Research & Health Policy. “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,” he adds.

Solar systems to cost almost US$100m

Kaiser will spend US$96 million over 20 years for the solar systems, which will provide 10% of the electricity used by facilities in California. It will retain all the Renewable Energy Credits (REC) for the solar projects, which will be cost-neutral.

The company wants to use onsite sustainable energy for 25% of its electricity demand by 2020, officials have said. It calls this initiative one of the largest sustainable energy programs in US health care.

Kaiser Permanente is also involved in reducing its GHG emissions, reducing the use of harmful chemicals and promoting sustainable food choices. It saves US$10 million a year through energy conservation strategies and will use sustainable design and construction practices to complete 6.7 million square feet of new construction within the next seven years. It estimates that is has eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals.

Kaiser was founded in 1945 and serves 8.6 million members in nine states. It is recognised as one of the leading health care providers in the US and not-for-profit health plans.

Recurrent Energy is an independent power producer and developer of solar power projects. The three-year-old firm will own and operate the solar systems, selling the green power to Kaiser through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity