Medicine turns to solar energy

Springfield Health Center now collects electricity from solar panels installed near the entrance to heat water for the medical staff. PROVIDED PHOTO

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Medical Care Systems is going solar.

The corporate parent of Springfield Hospital and the Springfield Health Center has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center at One Hundred River Street.

Larry Kraft, a hospital spokesman, said the hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year.

Kraft said Friday the two solar systems were different: One would produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger system at the hospital would produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage.

He said the original intent of the project was to install a system on the rooftop, but the center’s engineers determined the roof was not suitable.

But he said a portion of the building near the river is sheltered and receives what he called “excellent sunlight,” and the panels were installed there.

The four panels were installed before the onset of winter and have already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels, he said.

During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center. He said the total cost of the system was $30,000, and panels were installed by Springfield Heating and Ventilating Co. The system was paid for by donors, including a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Kraft said that while a rooftop installation was originally considered, it was determined that the system would produce more electricity from the ground. He said the solar installation would be built on “unbuildable ground” farther up Ridgewood Road and across the road from the hospital. He said the site is currently wooded.

“We will produce electricity,” he said, with a netmetering project, rather than hot water at the health center system.

Under a net-metering project, the hospital will receive credits for the electricity it generates, and those credits will be used to offset its electric bill.

susan.smallheer @rutlandherald.com

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