Morristown hospital poised to go solar; seeks town okay for panels over parking

Solar panels are proposed for the Women's Association parking garage at Morristown Medical Center. Photo courtesy of MMC.
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Here comes the sun.

That’s what Morristown Medical Center hopes the town zoning board will be singing this week.

A solar energy company is scheduled to request permission to install panels over two parking decks at the hospital.

These panels would be capable of generating 1.7 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 267 homes for a year, according to Robert Peake,  vice president for management and real estate at Atlantic Health, the hospital’s parent company.

In environmental terms, the solar array would reduce power generation demands equivalent to annually removing 319 cars from roads — that’s about 1,468 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, Peake said.

“Anything we can do that’s green and can reduce our carbon footprint is something we want to do,” Peake said.

Earlier this year, Morristown Medical Center received an award for its new energy-saving heat- and power plant.

During seasonal periods when heating- and cooling demands are low, the “co-generation” system and solar panels together could supplyall the hospital’s electricity, Peake said.

ABOVEgrid of Millstone is scheduled to address the zoning board’s virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Solar panels are proposed for the JCP&L parking garage at Morristown Medical Center. Photo courtesy of MMC.

If the project is approved, installation must be completed during this calendar year for ABOVEgrid to qualify for a government subsidy that is essential, Peake said. The hospital won’t occur any construction costs; instead, it will agree to pay ABOVEgrid for solar-generated electricity for 20 years.

That cost is estimated to be about $1.25 million lower than commercial power for the life of the contract, Peake said.

Holt Construction of Newark and Pearl River, NY, would erect the panels in late summer if the zoning board approves the plans.

Variances are needed to exceed height restrictions on the hospital’s six-level JCP&L and Women’s Association parking decks, Peake said.  The panels would span 112,220 square feet.

In addition to electricity, they would provide a roof for the decks’ top levels, shielding visitors from the elements and minimizing evening light spillage into the neighborhood, Peake said.

Atlantic Health already has garnered municipal approvals for solar projects at its Chilton, Newton and Hackettstown medical centers, and at its health pavilion in Rockaway.

When all these projects are completed, Peake said, their combined impact will be equivalent to removing 1,277 vehicles from roadways. That’s roughly 5,870 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The electricity they produce would be sufficient to power 1,066 homes annually. Energy savings for Atlantic Health are predicted at $8 million over 20 years.

Separately, Morristown Medical Center expects to add about 20 electric vehicle charging stations this year.

Hospital officials also aim to present plans to replace the parking deck at the right side of the Madison Avenue entrance. It dates to the 1980s and is costly to maintain, Peake said. The 30-acre campus has about 2,000 parking spaces, he said.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It’s much smaller, but the installation at SMG in Hanover is really nice – shaded parking is a nice side-benefit.

    I assume the Atlantic Health projects will probably look at bit like the panels topping off the parking decks at Bridgewater Commons, another nice upgrade.

    SMG aerial view: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Summit+Health/@40.7813766,-74.4279251,298m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x8959c4153cc30b4f!8m2!3d40.8107506!4d-74.4674703

    Bridgewater Commons aerial view: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bridgewater+Commons/@40.5864206,-74.6200292,350m/data=!3m2!1e3!5s0x89c3953fd4da36f5:0x7edf0a3a1dbd473c!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c395156648d463:0xa86b3dd3889e62b4!8m2!3d40.5858311!4d-74.6193571

  2. A good move by AHS but the Town should consider the need to require all new development to follow their lead.

  3. Good they are planning on replacing that parking deck to the right of the main entrance – that thing is ugly and looks like it’s costly to maintain.

  4. This is an excellent development: 3 cheers for Atlantic Health for its moves to green energy.

    For those who may doubt the efficacy—and the cost savings—of this investment to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, take a few minutes to visit VOLT, and, in particular, podcasts by Dave Roberts, one of its stars. In fact, Roberts was on the PBS News Hour Monday night commenting on the UN’s Climate Change Report and providing a most welcome look at the challenges the report presents by both acknowledging the need to do something about climate change while also saying that the tools to do that something are increasing exponentially and their cost declining, making doing something to reduce the warming of our planet within our grasp…..if, of course, government(s) step up and push the policy that markets are poised to embrace (but can’t push the changes fast enough).

    Roberts sees electrification as the main answer—wind and solar, battery and green hydrogen—so no carbon—we know all this—but he went on to talk specifically about how that process should occur (and why it isn’t impossible as costs for these green sources, as noted, are getting lower every day); electrifying transit comes first, then buildings, then industrial facilities…. We’re making a head start, here, in Morristown, at our town’s major medical center, thanks to Atlantic Health.

    Roberts said that the climate-related pieces of Biden’s Build Back Better bill, if adopted by Congress (and Manchin is ok with that, he says, as are others who object to other parts of that bill), then the U.S. can play the role it needs to play, not least by ‘putting our money where our mouths are’ in the global arena, positioning us to lead the way…. If we don’t have that bill passed and funded, then we can’t meet the goals we said we would and our credibility will be shot. Not to mention that the planet will continue to warm and we will see more evidence of our collective failure to do what we know can be done, if, that is, we had the will.

    Atlantic Health should get approval to install solar panels on its facility in Morristown—to save an estimated $8 million over the next two decades—and improve our planet’s prospects….by what it is doing and by the example it is setting.

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