Starting next month, Methodist Medical Center will use wind-generated electricity to power five buildings. Methodist Medical Group at Canton, Methodist at Pekin, Methodist at Morton, Methodist MedPointe at Peoria and the Methodist Atrium in Downtown Peoria will use wind power starting June 1. Vance Vinson, manager of facility services at Methodist, projects the switch will save about $12,000 over the next year.
Starting next month, Methodist Medical Center will use wind-generated electricity to power five buildings.
Methodist Medical Group at Canton, Methodist at Pekin, Methodist at Morton, Methodist MedPointe at Peoria and the Methodist Atrium in downtown Peoria will use wind power starting June 1.
Vance Vinson, manager of facility services at Methodist, projects the switch will save about $12,000 over the next year. Vinson also projects it will save more than 146 million pounds of carbon monoxide emissions.
"It's saving money and we think it's the right thing to do for our community and our patients," Vinson said. "This is the equivalent of taking 502 cars off the road for a year. It's what 70,000 trees would absorb in a year in CO2. That's what we're not putting into the atmosphere."
Methodist, which has 32 buildings in the Peoria area, buys its energy through BlueStar Energy Services, which has offices in Chicago and Peoria.
BlueStar is a wholesale energy supplier that seeks out energy bids for each of Methodist's buildings and finds the most competitive deals. In the case of the five buildings going to wind energy, Methodist purchased renewable energy certificates from wind turbines in Kansas.
"You've got to commend Methodist," said George Voorhees, BlueStar's senior director of national sales. "They're very proactive in wanting to reduce their carbon footprint."
The wind farms actually put energy onto the national grid, rather than sending the energy directly to Methodist sites. Methodist owns the rights to the amount of energy a designated number of Kansas turbines will produce in a one-year span.
Methodist is guaranteed that price for its projected one-year use of electricity at those five locations. If Methodist exceeds the amount guaranteed in the certificate, it will pay the going rate for any additional energy.
Electricity rates are calculated based on a variety of factors, such as total usage and times when energy usage peaks. Because the downtown hospital uses so much energy, it is not cost-effective to use certificates for wind energy.
At the five buildings tabbed for wind power, the rates were competitive.
"The national grid is like a cup of water," Vinson said. "If half of the cup is filled with renewable energy, then only half will come from sources like coal factories. The more renewable energy we have on the national grid, the better the benefits to the environment."
Methodist actually began experimenting with wind power last fall, when the Morton location began using it. After seeing a cost savings of a little more than $100 a month, Methodist decided to expand its usage.
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center also uses energy purchased through a third-party supplier.
By Illinois law, electricity providers soon will be required to acquire 4 percent of energy annually through renewable sources such as wind and solar. The percentage will gradually rise, up to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, according to Mark Beci of Midwest Energy, an energy broker based in Burr Ridge.
"It's good and it's bad," Beci said. "It just depends on the person's point of view. Obviously, it's going to increase costs, but it's going to help the environment."
That is likely to increase costs to companies such as OSF, which has 160 buildings system-wide, including 150 in Illinois.
"The increase could be substantial," said Mike Chihoski, senior vice president for OSF's corporate engineering division. "Obviously, the more people buying renewable energy, the more people invest in it and the more competitive it gets. Right now it's difficult to be cost-effective."
Ryan Ori can be reached at (309) 686-3264 or email@example.com.