OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Taking another step toward achieving its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2025 to help improve the health of communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente today celebrated the opening of the Blythe Solar Energy Center in Riverside County, Calif., which will generate enough renewable energy to reduce Kaiser Permanente's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent.
Kaiser Permanente enabled the construction of the energy center through a 20-year agreement with Blythe owner and operator NextEra Energy Resources to purchase 110 megawatts of the green energy generated at the site, the equivalent of powering more than 50,000 homes. This commitment to bring more clean energy generation online is part of Kaiser Permanente's long-term environmental stewardship goals, which align with its purpose of helping people and communities thrive. Among these goals is to become "carbon net positive" by 2025. "Climate change is inextricably linked to the health of our communities," said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's environmental stewardship officer. "Increased rates of asthma and other lung ailments, economically crippling droughts and the trauma of extreme weather events are some examples of the impacts we're already seeing. As a health care provider, we must be a leader in eliminating practices that can negatively impact environmental and human health." The 110 megawatts of renewable energy Kaiser Permanente is purchasing from the Blythe Solar Energy Center will prevent more than 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere each year that would have been created by burning fossil fuel. "This solar energy project is a tangible example of our commitment to the total health of the communities we serve," said Ramé Hemstreet, chief sustainable resources officer for Kaiser Permanente. "Climate change is already impacting the health of our members. By greening our energy supply, we reduce our contribution to the greenhouse gases that cause climate change."