Veterans’ Hospitals Go Solar

The Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif.

WASHINGTON — Ten veterans’ hospitals will soon be saving thousands of dollars annually in electricity costs thanks in part to solar system installations. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently awarded a $7.8 million contract to SunWize Technologies of Kingston, N.Y. to install the photovoltaic systems. The systems will range from 50 kW to 400 kW systems, all 10 of which will total 1.1 MW in photovoltaic power.
Federal government agencies are under executive order to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent a year, for a total of 30 percent by the end of 2015. In response to the mandate, the VA developed a comprehensive, department-wide energy management plan and surveyed its major facilities for their renewable energy potential.
"Medical facilities use a huge amount of energy, and solar is being widely adopted as a solution to that problem," says Paul Garvison, vice president of SunWize’s residential and commercial power systems division. 
The VA hospitals, located in Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Phoenix; Vallejo, Calif.; two facilities in Sacramento, Calif.; Honolulu; and Pago Pago, American Samoa, will utilize SANYO 210 watt N-Series modules, coupled with either Satcon or Fronius inverters, and will include a mix of rooftop and carport solar panels.
In 2009, SunWize, a firm with an 18-year history of manufacturing and installing photovoltaic systems, placed a 337-kilowatt DC solar electric system on top of the Dallas VA Medical Center. In 2008, the company completed a 309-kilowatt system at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif.
The Dallas VA hospital installation, called the largest photovoltaic installation in Texas at the time, is expected to save the facility more than $62,000 in annual electricity costs.
Those two initial projects laid the groundwork and supplied the experience for SunWize’s current agenda, according to Matt Ziskin, director of marketing and strategic project business development at the company.
"In the previous projects we gained expertise on how to work with the VA hospitals, how to adhere to their standards, and what needs to be done to keep those facilities operating throughout the life of the project," Ziskin says.

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