Monday, April 19, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic is embarking on the largest commercial solar energy project in southern Minnesota — also the third largest in the state.
Beginning this summer, approximately 500 solar panels will be installed on the roof of Mayo Clinic's Damon Patient/Visitor Parking Ramp in downtown Rochester. Minimal shade and a lack of mechanical equipment make the top of this building ideal for catching the sun's energy and turning it into power.
"As we evaluate possibilities for renewable energy sources at Mayo Clinic, we try to anticipate our needs and the needs of the community," says Donald DeCramer, chair of Mayo Clinic's Division of Architectural/Engineering Design Services. "This solar project is a good fit for both. Peak energy consumption for Mayo Clinic is in the summer. Peak performance of solar energy generation is in the summer, as well. The solar energy will reduce Mayo's power demand from other sources when that reduction is needed most."
Construction begins in June when the Damon roof will be replaced in preparation for the solar panels. The panels will be installed throughout the summer and fall. The system is projected to be fully operational by October.
A portion of the installation expenses will be covered by Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) through a new solar rebate program. Mayo also is exploring other opportunities for rebates and discounts that may be available for the project through the state of Minnesota.
"We are excited about our collaboration with Mayo Clinic on this solar energy project. Lower cost and ease of installation are quickly making solar energy a more realistic renewable energy choice," says RPU general manager Larry Koshire. "Mayo will be the first business to take advantage of our new solar rebate program, SolarChoice. We want to support alternative-energy sources and continue to meet customers' needs by providing rebates on renewable energy and energy-efficient purchases on projects such as this one with Mayo." The official launch of SolarChoice is scheduled this summer.
The solar energy project is part of Mayo Clinic's ongoing effort to examine opportunities for using solar power and other renewable energy sources throughout the organization. Following the completion of this project, Mayo Clinic plans to investigate other sites on its campuses where solar energy could be beneficial.
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