Clean Power Systems, Envision Solar, Inc. and Kyocera Solar, Inc. "Plant" a Solar Grove at St. Mary Medical Center to Cultivate Clean Energy and Shade Medical Facility Focused on Wellness Heals Environment and Promotes Employee Well-being


Apple Valley, Calif. – October 29, 2008 – Clean Power Systems, Envision Solar, Inc. and Kyocera Solar, Inc. announced today that the companies have supplied St. Mary Medical Center with a Solar Grove™ – an array of three “Solar Rows” that converts a 104-vehicle parking lot into a 230-kilowatt (kW) solar electric generating system.  St. Mary Medical Center, known for its health and wellness programs, initiated the project to focus on a new type of healing experience – one that benefits the environment and its employees.

The Solar Grove™ is comprised of custom steel frame shade structures that support a canopy of 1,150 Kyocera KC 200GT photovoltaic modules.  These “Solar Rows™” convert sunlight into clean energy. By transforming its parking area into a Solar Grove™, St. Mary Medical Center has taken an active role in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that it will emit into the atmosphere by offsetting the electrical load of the hospital. The Solar Grove™ has a peak rated output of about 333,400 kWh per year.

While most solar panels sit on a rooftop, the Solar Grove™ at St. Mary Medical Center utilizes a large open space on the property, its parking lot, to capture the region’s ample sunlight so that the same panels that capture the sun will also shade vehicles, and reduce the overall “heat island effect.”   Heat Island Effect is a major problem for the planet and results when concrete areas retain excessive heat, even at night, worsening heat waves and increasing energy consumption from air conditioning use.

By “foresting” an area of its surface parking lot, St. Mary Medical Center will offer shaded parking, a valuable commodity in the High Desert that will make employees a bit more comfortable when they re-enter their vehicles after working a shift at the hospital. 

Envision Solar created the trademarked design that features Kyocera’s solar panels.  Kyocera, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photovoltaic modules, inaugurated the first Solar Grove™ at its North American headquarters in San Diego, California.  Kyocera Solar, Inc. President Steve Hill sees a growing trend in high-visibility solar power systems. “We have seen an increase in worldwide demand for solar power,” stated Hill. “As a result, we are expanding our Tijuana facility – a move that will contribute to the increase in Kyocera’s global manufacturing output from 207 megawatts (MW) in 2007 to 650 MW by March 2012.”

The Solar Grove™ structures, which add a sculptural landscape to parking lots, were designed by Envision Solar, the La Jolla, California-based firm that specializes in site integrated photovoltaic systems.  Envision Solar CEO and founder Robert Noble commented, “As sustainable architects we find solar panels to be a beautiful building material that we use to integrate clean energy into the design of the site.”

The new parking shade structures, which comprise the community’s largest and most visible solar power installation, will administer a healing dose of environmental benefits to the planet in way that promotes the hospital’s fiscal well-being, without any out of pocket costs.

The St. Mary Medical Center Solar Grove™ was installed by Clean Power Systems, a San Diego solar integrator that brought to the medical center a creative financing solution through Solar Power Partners.  Solar Power Partners provided financing for the project at no cost to the hospital through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).  Clean Power Systems CEO Kirk Mulligan notes that the financing of the system also produces a healthy benefit to the hospital’s bottom line because it requires no out of pocket costs.  The hospital signed the PPA, a financing instrument that allows St. Mary Medical Center to host rather than own the solar power system.  The facility agrees to purchase the power produced by the Solar Grove™ at roughly the same price at which it buys power from the local utility company during peak hours of the day when the sun is shining.  Mulligan added, “St. Mary Medical Center was looking for a way to install shade structures for its employees, and the arrangement provided by the Power Purchase Agreement includes this as part of the solar power system, with no out of pocket cost.” 

Bob Diehl, VP of Strategic Planning at St. Mary Medical Center who initiated the solar project, notes that “this has been an exciting project!  Not only has the Solar Grove™ generated a lot of 'buzz' among our staff, but we are also hearing from other organizations that would like to explore similar solar power systems at their own facilities.”  Diehl adds, “we hope that the Solar Grove™ at St. Mary Medical Center will embolden other healthcare facilities to try new ways to contribute actively to the health of the community.”