VA Announces Solar, Wind and Geothermal Energy Projects

Patients, staff and visitors at the Loma Linda, Calif., and Dallas VA medical centers who happen to gaze skyward in the coming months are likely to see a flurry of roof-level activity. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be installing a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system at each campus to provide clean, natural, sun-powered electricity this summer.

By using sunlight, a free renewable fuel, these systems will reduce the medical centers' electricity costs and provide environmental benefits to the medical center, VA and the community.

"Hospitals are big users of energy, so whatever VA can do to become a good 'green' neighbor will benefit all of us, both in the short and the long terms," said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "I'm proud of these innovative steps our people are taking and look for them to expand."

With large amounts of sunshine available year-round, plenty of roof space, and an attractive state-level incentive in California, the Loma Linda and Dallas sites quickly rose to the top of VA's list of candidate locations for PV pilot projects.

As part of a comprehensive department-wide energy management plan, last year VA screened its major facilities for not only PV potential, but the potential to use wind, geothermal and biomass energy, and to use solar energy for water heating, as well. The evaluation helped VA identify 16 candidate sites for solar PV projects, 15 for solar water heating, six for wind, and two for direct geothermal energy systems.

Solar hot water energy system work is underway at the Dallas facility and at VA's West Los Angeles medical center, and two facilities in Arizona have added solar water heating to the list of energy-efficient measures they plan to implement.

VA plans to award a contract for a wind energy pilot project at its medical center in St. Cloud, Minn., by the end of this June and a contract for a geothermal energy pilot project at the Boise, Idaho, VA Medical Center by the end of September. Both the wind and geothermal systems will be installed by September 2009.

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