Microgrid Project at Kaiser Permanente May Set Precedent for Hospitals

Is it possible for a hospital to save money on energy, reduce its carbon footprint and add the option of critical power during power outages in one project?

That is the goal of a microgrid demonstration project installed at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center in Richmond.

The renewable microgrid system, designed and engineered by the Los Angeles-based Charge Bliss, will demonstrate the ability to provide 365,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually, reduce peak demand by up to 200 kilowatts (kW), and potentially improve building power quality and efficiency.

The California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program provided $4.7 million for the project. The EPIC program supports innovations and strategies to advance clean energy technologies that help California meet its energy and climate goals.

The other project partners, OSIsoft and Princeton Power Systems, provided the remaining $2 million for the demonstration project.

“The KP Richmond project would not exist were it not for the Energy Commission,” said David Bliss, Charge Bliss’ chief executive officer.
The Energy Commission support was crucial to facilitate the cutting edge combination of solar, batteries, and control systems into one at a California hospital, Bliss said.

A 250-kW solar photovoltaic structure, the largest component of the project, is installed over the top floor of KP’s parking garage. The system includes a 1-megawatt battery storage unit, smart inverters, and a microgrid controller.

The project is a timely one for hospitals because of extreme climate events that can lead to power outages. A microgrid can keep power flowing to a hospital by separating or “islanding” it from the central utility grid. When that happens, the microgrid can provide at least three hours of power to select critical systems and automate demand response to reduce electrical demand.

The project’s ability to support hospital operations during outages may convince the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which oversees information about California’s healthcare infrastructure, to allow similar microgrids at other hospitals, Bliss said.

Aerial video courtesy of Charge Bliss:

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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