Kaiser Permanente has won a 2015 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its use of wind energy and solar power in California and elsewhere around the country.
The annual awards recognize the country's top users of clean power for contributing to the growth of the renewable energy market in the U.S.
With solar panels at 16 doctors' offices, hospitals and other locations in California, Oregon and Colorado, Kaiser Permanente generated nearly 19 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar energy in 2014. It also buys enough power from wind turbines to provide 100 percent of the electricity it uses at the facilities it owns in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
In February, Kaiser Permanente said it would expand its use of wind and solar energy to power its hospitals and other buildings. To help achieve that aim:
- Kaiser Permanente will buy 153 megawatts of wind and solar power from two California farms currently under construction.
- The organization will use its own rooftops, parking lots and other properties across California to host 100 acres of solar panels, generating an additional 75 megawatts of solar power for its direct use.
When completed in 2016, these new clean power projects will generate an additional 590 million kilowatt hours of power annually – the equivalent of powering 82,000 homes a year. These projects will generate 50 percent of the electricity Kaiser Permanente uses in California and allow the organization to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent.
This will also make Kaiser Permanente one of the top users of clean power in the country. This renewable energy will come with no upfront costs to Kaiser Permanente and its members, and is expected to reduce the organization's energy costs over the next 20 years.
Kaiser Permanente's ambitious use of wind and solar energy stems from its concerns about climate change and its threat to human health.
"We are proud to be recognized as a green power leader by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," said Rame Hemstreet, chief energy officer, Kaiser Permanente. "As a health care provider, we recognize that healthy people need healthy environments, so replacing fossil fuels with green energy is a natural extension of our mission to improve health. We hope our experience buying solar and wind energy will influence others across the U.S. to support clean sources of electricity that do not cause harm through climate change or air pollution."
Kaiser Permanente was one of only 11 organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award for its green power purchases. This is the second time Kaiser Permanente has been named a Green Power Leader by the EPA. The organization won the award in 2013 for its use of solar power.
The EPA defines green power as zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints.
"EPA is pleased to recognize Kaiser Permanente in its California, Colorado, Northwest and Mid-Atlantic regions with a Green Power Purchasing Award for its exceptional commitment to buying green power and reducing carbon pollution associated with its electricity use," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "In doing so, these Kaiser Permanente regions are taking action to address climate change, and we encourage other organizations to do the same."