Kaiser Permanente has agreed to deploy 15 MW of solar power in a deal that will put solar power systems at 15 facilities across the state of California 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.
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.
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.