Kentucky Hospital Installs Sustainable Energy

Rockcastle Regional hospital in Kentucky has installed 210 solar modules on top of its Outpatients Services Center. It has become the first hospital in that state to have solar power. The modules are expected to produce around 290 watts each (60.9 kW total), which is enough energy to power eight to ten homes annually. Kentucky Utilities will purchase the power generated.

Rockcastle Regional is a not-for-profit community healthcare founded in 1956. It features an emergency service, 26-bed inpatient acute beds and outpatient acute care programs, a 93-bed long-term care program for patients dependent upon mechanical ventilation and a medical office complex.

The solar panels will power the third floor of the Outpatient Services Center, which is a space for community wellness events. The solar panels will also have a socially responsible purpose as they will be used to educate local students on the benefits of sustainable energy.

The solar array went live on November 30 as part of the institution’s plan to incorporate solar power into its energy management and to reduce its reliance on the public power grid. It’s also part of the hospital’s plan to create a healthy, sustainable community, said CEO Stephen A. Estes.

“We’ve built our organization on forward-thinking innovation. Now we’ve applied that mindset to energy management, and it creates a win-win for us and the community in the long term,” Estes said. “As corporate citizens, we feel an obligation to conserve energy, and doing so frees more resources for patient care and wellness initiatives.”

Green Earth Solar of Knoxville, Tennessee was awarded the contract after the hospital management held discussions with several potential companies. Green Earth Solar has been in business since 2006 and has completed dozens of solar projects including dairies, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, parks and residential areas. Rockcastle Regional Hospital is the solar company’s first hospital project.

The healthcare industry is increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainable solar energy generated on site. Even the Red Cross has got in on the act by powering its pop-hospitals in emergency zones with solar power to reduce dependence on diesel. The Thomonde Hospital in Haiti is another case in point. Previously it had relied on an expensive diesel-powered generator, which often broke down. Now it uses solar power, with staff trained to give the modules maintenance. The diesel generators are being kept as a backup system.

Back in 2008 Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital in Sacramento, California decide to obtain 50 percent of its electricity with solar power. The healthcare institution installed a 736-kilowatt array over the employee parking lot and a ground-mounted tracking system on the property next to it.

Image credit: Rockcastle Hospital.