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Kaiser Permanente Starts Using Solar Power at Its Hospitals

Kaiser Permanente, the largest U.S. non-profit health management organization, switched on photovoltaic panels at a California medical center in a plan to provide 10 percent of its hospitals’ power from solar energy.

The HMO began drawing electricity from solar devices at its Santa Clara Medical Center, it said in a Jan. 7 statement. Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente agreed to deploy 15 megawatts of solar energy by the end of this year on rooftops and other outdoor surfaces at 15 of its California facilities.

The construction is being carried out by Recurrent Energy, a San Francisco-based project developer that was hired in March and acquired by Japan’s Sharp Corp. in November for $305 million. Using power purchase agreements, Recurrent will own and operate the installations and turn over to the hospital company the Renewable Energy Credits earned by the projects.

Kaiser Permanente, with operating revenue of $42.1 billion and 15,129 physicians in 2009, has said solar-panel installations are the first step in a project to use onsite renewable energy such as wind power, fuel cells and thermal power for part of its electricity needs at buildings nationwide.

The non-profit said it will use “sustainable design and construction practices” to complete about 6.7 million square feet of new building over the next seven years.

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