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.
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.