The first hospital in Kentucky to lower its reliance on the power grid in a big way is Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mt. Vernon. On November 30, 2011, the hospital went live with a solar array, mixing its solar power with its energy management plan.
Rockfield’s CEO Stephan A. Estes says, “We’ve built our organization on forward-thinking innovation. Now we’ve applied that mindset to energy management, and it creates a win-win for us and the community in the long term,” Estes said. “As corporate citizens, we feel an obligation to conserve energy, and doing so frees more resources for patient care and wellness initiatives.”
Estes first came up with the idea to integrate solar power in the hospital after reading an article about a solar project at the Cincinnati Zoo, which used solar panels on parking structures. After researching and determining the possibility of solar power at the hospital campus by University of Louisville student John Lambert, Green Earth Solar, of Knoxville, was offered the contract.
Green Earth Solar partner Ed Zubko says, “Rockcastle Regional Hospital is buying 30-50 years of electricity in advance instead of paying for it monthly. They are making an investment and accruing decades of free electricity.”
The hospital’s Outpatient Services Center now has 210 solar modules that produce 290 watts each. This is enough energy to power eight to 10 homes annually. The third floor of the Center will be almost entirely powered by the solar modules. On top of providing energy, the panels will also be used educationally for local students. Science classes and local students will be invited to tour the solar array.