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NRG & Kaiser Marry Solar & Health Interests

NRG Energy, the largest independent power producer in the United States, announced Wednesday that its subsidiary, NRG Renew, will join Kaiser Permanente, a major nonprofit US health provider serving over 9 million people, in creating one of the top three on-site commercial solar portfolios among all US companies. The California project will also be one of the world’s largest vehicle-parking solar projects.

Rendering of NRG-Kaiser solar parking spaces

Research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tells us that pavement accounts for 35–50% of the surface area of a typical city — and exposed parking lots comprise fully 40% of this space. Says Kaiser Permanente’s Chief Energy Officer, Ramé Hemstreet:

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources over time is one of the most impactful actions we can take to address the effects of climate change on health.

NRG will install solar PV arrays that will allow more than 150 KP sites in California to generate their own on-site clean energy from parking facilities, totalling up to 70 MW of power. Medical offices, hospitals, clinics, data centers, and other Kaiser Permanente facilities will take part in the single-brand, multi-site, distributed solar program. The panels will cover more than 20,000 parking spots used by Kaiser Permanente members, visitors, and employees.

KP will have a long-term power purchase agreement with NRG for electricity generated by the solar installations. NRG will finance, build, own, and operate the PV systems, and then sell the output to Kaiser Permanente at a fixed price over a 20-year period. The set of solar parking lot installations should offset 6–8% of Kaiser Permanente’s total California electric load.

Kaiser Permanente Hospital Support Building, Irvine, California (coarchitects.com)

Kaiser Permanente Hospital Support Building, Irvine, California (coarchitects.com)

The total installed on-site solar capacity will elevate Kaiser Permanente to solar leadership among healthcare companies. It will also enable the company to meet its sustainability goals three years ahead of time. These include reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 and addressing the impacts of climate change on human health.

The planned NRG-KP solar development will demonstrate NRG Renew’s capabilities to execute large, complex solar projects in tandem with US corporate leaders. You may be interested to know that during the past year, NRG has announced partnerships to develop clean energy solutions with several leading companies, Unilever among them. The company also has recently completed or is constructing projects at MGM Resorts International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, and the Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.

The PV-parking arrangement will also contribute to the California’s new state clean energy goal of 50% energy from renewables by 2030. Governor Jerry Brown announced this target in January at his fourth inaugural address.

“What is truly unique to California is its ability to transform the clean energy market,” Abigail Dillen, Vice President of Climate and Energy for Earthjustice, told the DeSmog Blog at the time. “It is a big state with a massive economy and the political will and innovative spirit to seriously address climate change. Californians see that climate change is real and a problem and are trying to develop solutions to address it.”

 
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Written By

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

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