Carilion New River Valley Medical Center’s (CNRV) 4,000-panel solar tracking system is now bringing earnings in addition to energy savings to the Carilion system.
This March, Sara Wohlford, Efficiency and Sustainability director for Carilion, and Scott Blankenship, CNRV Facilities director, were presented with a check for $105,644, for the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits from Secure Futures LLC at an event highlighting Carilion’s commitment to the advancement of sustainability policies.
“The solar array at CNRV continues to produce energy above projected capacity,” said Blankenship. “In addition to reducing our demand for electric power from the grid and lowering the hospital’s energy bills, we will use the funds generated from the sale of the SRECs to reinvest in sustainability projects such as LED lighting upgrades.”
SREC credits are given out based on how much energy is produced; one SREC is generated for every megawatt-hour (MWh) or 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar electricity that a solar panel system produces. So far, CNRV has earned a total of $113,633 from the sales of SRECs and has reduced Carilion’s carbon dioxide emissions by 5,368 metric tons.
“We’re happy to have worked with Carilion Clinic to build and operate the CNRV solar array,” said Anthony Smith, president of Secure Futures. “Selling the Solar Renewable Energy Credits lowers Carilion’s cost of power, and hosting a solar energy system that sends clean power onto the electric grid for other utility customers to use is proof of Carilion’s commitment to serve its communities.”
Carilion purchases services from Staunton-based solar company Secure Futures, LLC, which finances, owns, operates, and maintains the array. The panels, which first became operational in Dec. 2017, were installed on farmland adjacent to the hospital. The property is actively maintained by a local sheep farmer and his herd, which helps increase the economic output of the land while eliminating the use of gasoline and fossil fuels to mow the area.
In total, the system is anticipated to generate an estimated $1.5 million in savings over 20 years and to significantly reduce the facility’s carbon footprint. The project was supported by The U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $500,000 grant from the Rural Energy for America Program. It also contributed to Carilion’s Efficiency and Sustainability Program, winning a 2019 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award. The award recognizes innovative projects with significant environmental contributions in four categories: sustainability program, environmental project, land conservation, and implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan.
“We are so excited about our investment in solar energy,” said Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion president and CEO. “It reduces operational expenses, producing savings that will ultimately help to reduce health care costs for our community. Hosting a solar array on our campus also makes clean energy available to other utility customers, which helps everybody benefit from solar power.”
At the time of the array’s activation, CNRV was the first hospital in the state to utilize a single-axis solar tracking system. The system allows panels to tilt from east to west throughout the day, following the journey of the sun to maximize efficiency. This innovative technology has allowed CNRV to produce 7,574,917 kWh of electricity, the equivalent electricity used to power 975 homes for one year.