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Kadlec gets energy efficient with solar panels, wind turbines

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City Herald

RICHLAND -- The Tri-Cities' infamous "400 days of sunshine" now are helping power Kadlec Regional Medical Center with the recent installation of an array of solar panels on the Richland hospital's roof.

The solar panels, along with two miniature wind turbines, were part of a multi-million dollar energy efficiency project Apollo Solutions Group pitched to the hospital to help Kadlec save money on its energy bills.

Apollo secured $2 million in stimulus funding, along with $900,000 in cash incentives from the Bonneville Power Administration and Richland's city government, to do the project, which also involved changing out 6,000 lightbulbs and replacing Kadlec's aging boiler system with a more modern and efficient one, said Jason Rose, the hospital's director of plant operations.

"(Apollo) really looked at the holistic picture of the hospital -- opportunities within the hospital where we could save energy," he said. "It was a fun project. It probably wouldn't have been feasible without Apollo's assistance."

Kadlec paid $4.5 million out of its own pocket for the project, but Rose said it was the time investment by Apollo officials that really was invaluable.

The project almost didn't happen when the stimulus money originally was awarded to another recipient.

"It took the wind out of our sails," Rose said.

But then the recipient backed out when it was unable to meet a deadline, and the Kadlec project was back on.

The wind turbines and solar panels provide only a small fraction -- about 10 kilowatts -- of the hospital's power, but because of the overall revamp, Kadlec expects to save about 30 percent on its energy bills.

"That's huge for an organization this size," Rose said.

And Apollo in its contract guaranteed those savings -- or it will write the hospital a check, Rose said.

"They're standing behind what they do," he said.

Patients shouldn't see any changes, other than maybe a little difference in the lighting.

"That's kind of the beauty of this is we're able to do all of these savings without changing the patient experience," Rose said.