Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Clara Medical Center has gone live with solar power, becoming one of the country’s first major medical centers to receive a significant amount of its energy from the sun.

“Kaiser Permanente has a long history of energy conservation and environmental stewardship, and our use of solar and other forms of renewable energy further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to improving the overall health and well-being of our members and the communities we serve,” said Gregory A. Adams, group president, regional president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan/Hospitals, Inc. in Northern California.

Kaiser Permanente agreed in March to install solar power systems at 15 of its California facilities — deploying a total 15 megawatts of solar energy — by the end of 2011. The agreement with Recurrent Energy, a solar project developer and generating company providing clean electricity to utilities and large energy users, launched one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care.

Solar panels at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara will produce 8.5 percent of the power used at the medical center — or enough to provide electricity for 136 homes for one year.

Installing solar panels on Kaiser Permanente hospitals, medical offices and other buildings is the first step in a comprehensive 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.

Kaiser Permanente’s investment in solar power will reduce the organization’s reliance on the public power grid and help it diversify its energy sources. The 15 megawatts of solar power will produce an average of 10 percent of the electricity at each of the facilities, which also include the Vallejo Medical Center in Northern California, and medical offices in Lancaster and La Mesa in Southern California.

This is enough to provide electricity for 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. Kaiser Permanente also will retain all the Renewable Energy Credits awarded for these solar projects.

“These solar agreements are a major step toward our 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 department. In the future, energy sources could include thermal energy, wind and fuel cells in addition to solar.

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, help Kaiser Permanente to build green and stay on budget.

source: pr-usa