Citizens Medical Center uses a microgrid to supply backup power during emergency events.

Image courtesy of Enchanted Rock

Hurricane Harvey affected an estimated 13 million people when it swept through the Gulf Coast in 2017. The Category 4 hurricane resulted in historic flooding, damaged or destroyed nearly 135,000 homes, and caused $125 billion in damage across the region. Hospitals, too, were badly impacted by the hurricane, with many having to temporarily close facilities due to damage or preemptively transfer patients to safer facilities. 

Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas, sits among those hospitals impacted by Harvey. The 338-bed hospital employs more than 1,000 health care personnel and provides critical services such as Level III trauma care, a stroke center, rehabilitation, bariatric services, cancer care and more. 

The medical center has served south Texas residents since 1956 but suffered a multiday power outage due to the hurricane in 2017. Although the facility was equipped with standard emergency diesel generators backing up the life safety equipment and critical loads required for regulatory compliance, the loss of water combined with unprotected loads created a cascading impact that required the medical center to evacuate staff and patients to a safer location, resulting in $6 million of lost revenue for the organization. 

To avoid potential future financial losses due to postponed procedures, damaged medical supplies or medicines, and patient and staff evacuations, Citizens Medical Center decided to search for an affordable full-facility power resiliency solution.

After evaluating many options, the medical center selected a solution from Enchanted Rock, Houston. The company provides affordable, long-duration backup power to commercial, industrial and institutional customers through fully managed and clean microgrids.

Citizens Medical Center chose Enchanted Rock’s Integrated Reliability On Call (iROC) solution to ensure outages no longer impacted the safety, medical care and comfort of its patients. 

With a full-facility backup system, operations can run as usual despite outside weather events or grid disruptions. Enchanted Rock’s iROC solution was an attractive option because it increases power resiliency while lowering capital cost. Enchanted Rock owns and operates the systems, allowing the medical center  to focus its resources on providing high-quality care for its patients. 

Enchanted Rock designed a microgrid solution that integrated with the existing diesel system that complied with relevant regulatory standards. The Enchanted Rock resiliency microgrids are located upstream of the diesel equipment between the utility and the load, and they act as a secondary utility power supply.

In the event of an outage, the diesel generators will pick up the critical load. In tandem with this, Enchanted Rock’s systems will automatically start up and will pick up the entire facility’s load in a matter of seconds, including the loads the diesel generators are already powering. This process allows the diesel system to shut down.

During the recent snowstorm that hit parts of Texas and surrounding states, Citizens Medical Center’s microgrid kicked on and prevented power outages from hitting the facility. 

In addition to reliability, the medical center says that the turnkey solution is also an affordable option. Enchanted Rock owns and operates the systems, relieving the hospital of much of the cost of ownership. Citizens paid a small upfront contribution that was 20% of the cost of the entire system. 

Additionally, all operations and maintenance is included at no additional cost. Enchanted Rock’s microgrid Network Operations Center provides 24/7 monitoring of the systems.

“We have been very impressed with all aspects of this project, and we are very pleased to have this service available to our entire hospital in the event of an outage,” says Mike Olson, CEO of Citizens Medical Center. “This gives us a great deal of security to know that we will be able to take care of our patients, staff and community if we face another hurricane or other disaster that results in loss of electrical power.”