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A solar array consisting of 1,485 panels covers the fourth floor of the hospital's parking garage.

Photo courtesy of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center

As part of its ongoing effort to reduce energy consumption and costs, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, Conn., has installed a photovoltaic solar power plant that will help the health facility to achieve both goals.

The solar power plant is projected to generate nearly 535,000 kilowatts (kW) of annual electricity production and $600,000 in projected energy savings over 20 years, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Comprising 1,485 panels, the solar array covers the fourth floor of the visitor parking garage, which is a roof area not designated for vehicles.

The project was funded through a grant from Connecticut's Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program in partnership with renewable energy provider Soltage LLC.

Through a solar power sales and service agreement, Soltage will own and operate the power plant and sell the electricity at a reduced cost to Saint Francis for the next 20 years. Under terms of the agreement with Soltage, there was no cost to Saint Francis to purchase and install the photovoltaic panels.

“This project is a win-win-win,” says Robert J. Falaguerra, vice president of facilities, support services and construction at Saint Francis. “We’re saving energy, money and it is green technology that’s helping to protect our environment.”

“This distributed solar generation project locks in clean electricity for Saint Francis at a cost well below utility rates,” says Jesse Grossman, Soltage co-founder and CEO.

“And, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the hospital is improving local environmental health conditions for the community it serves,” Grossman say.  

The project will eliminate more than 275,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 458 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 277 pounds of nitrogen dioxide annually.

The solar panel project is the latest of several energy-saving efforts undertaken by Saint Francis. In 2012, a UTC Power PureCell fuel cell was installed to lower energy costs, increase operational reliability and contribute to a cleaner environment.      

Also in 2012, a similar fuel cell was added at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford. Each fuel cell provides 400 kW of power, satisfying 10 percent of the main campus’s electricity needs and 42 percent at Mount Sinai. Thermal energy from the fuel cells is harnessed to serve heating loads at both locations.

By generating power on-site with the fuel cells, Saint Francis is preventing the release of more than 939 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.