November 10, 2016

New solar plant offers a greener future

Riverside County solar energy plant will create 110 megawatts of renewable energy to help green California’s power grid.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Taking another step to improve the health of the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente today celebrated the opening of the Blythe Solar Energy Center in Riverside County, California, which will generate enough renewable energy to reduce the organization’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12 percent annually.

The investment by the nation’s largest integrated health care system enabled the construction of the new energy center through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Blythe owner and operator, NextEra Energy Resources. The new solar energy plant will generate 110 megawatts of green energy, the equivalent of powering more than 47,000 homes in California.

This commitment to bring more clean energy generation online is part of Kaiser Permanente’s long-term environmental stewardship goals, which align with its purpose of helping people and communities thrive. Among these goals is to become “carbon net positive” by 2025.

“Climate change is inextricably linked to the health of our communities,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's environmental stewardship officer. “Increased rates of asthma and other lung ailments, economically crippling droughts and the trauma of extreme weather events are some examples of the impacts we’re already seeing. As a health care provider, we continue to be a leader in eliminating practices that can negatively impact environmental and human health.”

Ribbon cutting for new solar farm in Riverside county with a group of 7 people lined up and solar panels in the background
On November 10, 2016, local and state leaders, together with executives from NextEra Energy Resources and its partners Southern California Edison (SCE) and Kaiser Permanente, celebrated the commissioning of the Blythe and McCoy Solar Energy Centers in Riverside County, Calif., featuring more than 4 million tracking solar panels with the capacity to generate 485 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, enough to power more than 181,000 homes. Pictured (from left to right): Amanda Barrera, secretary of the Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Council; Lolita Scofield, Mohave Elder of the Colorado River Indian Tribes; Commissioner Karen Douglas of the California Energy Commission; Ramé Hemstreet, vice president of operations and chief sustainability officer for Kaiser Permanente; Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources; Pete Dietrich, SCE senior vice president of Transmission and Distribution; Supervisor John Benoit of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

The 110 megawatts of renewable energy produced at the Blythe Solar Energy Center will prevent more than 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere each year that would have been created by burning fossil fuel.

“This solar energy project is a tangible example of our commitment to the total health of the communities we serve,” said Ramé Hemstreet, chief sustainable resources officer for Kaiser Permanente. “The Blythe project also supports Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to providing access to affordable health care by locking in a set price for the power generated there, reducing our exposure to rising energy prices.”

This project is a central part of Kaiser Permanente’s strategy to lower the carbon emissions associated with its operations. Kaiser Permanente’s goal of going carbon net positive by 2025 — by buying enough clean energy and carbon offsets to remove more carbon emissions from the atmosphere than the organization emits — is one component of the health care system’s ambitious long-term sustainability goals. Kaiser Permanente is also taking steps to purchase only sustainably produced food, send zero waste to landfills, purchase more products that meet environmentally preferable criteria, and reduce the amount of water it uses by 25 percent per square foot of buildings.

Work on the solar energy facility has created hundreds of local construction jobs in Riverside County since 2014.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.