If you peek out of your peripherals while driving along Highway 139 past Lassen College you can faintly see the reflection of a massive 868-kilowatt solar array down slope from Banner Lassen Medical Center. This new addition wasn’t just to be “green,” however, because it makes financial sense and will help in bringing down the cost of doing business.
Sitting down with Jon R. McMillan, Banner Lassen Medical Center’s chief financial officer, Mike Novosad, director of support services, and Matt DeFabrizio, manager/ supervisor of plant operations, while also on teleconference with Dan Dupaix, senior engineer for Banner Lassen Development and Construction, there were many findings that showed promise of savings for the local medical center.
They made clear that the savings they would generate will offset the center’s utility costs and with using all of the power generated from the array, will have a savings of $.02 per kilowatt-hour, which will lead to an annual savings of $20,000. McMillan said, “Over the course of five to six years, these savings could mean an x-ray machine or a major piece of equipment for the hospital.”
McMillan noted, “We’re saving money on behalf of our patients so that we can maintain our costs at a certain level that’s affordable to the patients. It also gives us the opportunity to buy equipment that we need for taking care of the patients.”
In agreement, Dupaix, who provides support to all of Banner’s facilities, said their decision to raise the solar array would, “make patient care as economical as possible.”
The original draft of their proposal for the solar system envisioned a 980-kilowatt system, but that was eventually trimmed to not surpass excess electricity generation, which Banner would have to sell back at additional costs.
Banner operates 29 hospitals in seven states and has more than 13,000,000 square feet of medical centers. This isn’t the first time Banner has used renewable energy to power their facilities. In Mesa, Arizona, Banner erected a similar array, however that site only has a savings of a fourth of a cent per kilowatt-hour.
Constructing the array was a quick process and only took four and a half months to complete, from start to finish – impressive for such a large project. The solar system has been online since Dec. 14, and is approaching its eighth week online and supplying power to the hospital.
The project was brought by Borrego Solar. Borrego Solar specializes in solar and energy storage services for commercial and utility customers. They partner with private and public large-scale energy users, landowners, independent power producers and utilities in California, Massachusetts and New York.
On their website, borregosolar.com., the company reports it has successfully completed 1,100 projects of more than 500 megawatts of solar capacity and are the third largest commercial solar electric power company in the United States.
With an impressive list of successful and high profile projects, Borrego Solar was established in 1980 by Dr. James Rickard, a San Diego State University Professor of astrophysics who lived in the town around the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park just east of San Diego, California.
As of today, Borrego provides solar systems for many corporations, educational institutions and other public sector facilities. Their project list includes the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Apple’s Corporate Office in Cupertino, the Sierra Community College District in Rocklin and Grass Valley, Edward Air Force Base, and both the San Diego and the Sacramento International Airport.
Sacramento’s airport has more than 23,000 LG solar panels and will provide enough energy to meet more than 30 percent of the airport’s electricity demand, an equivalent amount, which would power around 1,600 homes a year.
The Banner Lassen solar project has been perceived as a major win for the many parties involved. They have maintained a relatively steady success and have experienced few delays to contend with throughout the process.
Dupaix mentioned the solar array blends in really well with the slope of the hill and was well placed as to not creating a negative visual impact for the community.
Upon the ending of the meeting, McMillan said they were just happy they could do it and be part of being better stewards for the community.