San Benito Health Foundation Brings Energy Resiliency to its Critical Facility

 Public Safety Power Shutoffs are upon us and affected healthcare facilities could face complications powering vital equipment and accessing digital medical records. Hollister’s San Benito Health Foundation has a plan to overcome these challenges and they are putting it into action.
What started as a trip abroad has now evolved into local energy resiliency for a critical community facility. Rosa Vivian Fernández, San Benito Health Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer of fourteen years, experienced the detriments of prolonged power outages firsthand when she visited Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Community health centers lost power for weeks, even months, unable to provide treatment to patients who depend on dialysis, oxygen, or simply medications requiring refrigeration.
“I saw families devastated and without access to basic services and needs. I told myself I would never let that happen to the people who depend on SBHF. I also wanted to find a way for my organization to have a positive impact for our climate,” Fernández said in MBEP Member Spotlight: San Benito Foundation Invests in Preparedness, Sustainability.
SBHF, a nonprofit community healthcare organization, has provided an array of medical and dental services since 1975 to the San Benito County community, regardless of any patient’s ability to pay. This year, they’ve officially gone off the grid to become California’s first 100% carbon-neutral healthcare facility.
Fernandez’s vision became possible with assistance from Greenpower , a nonprofit empowering communities with planet-friendly energy. Their partnership resulted in a 120-panel solar array with backup battery storage as well as an eco-friendly bio-ethanol generator fueled by compost. Combined, the solar power, battery and generator work in harmony to create an island of local power sources and power storage known as a microgrid, allowing the facility to fully operate for up to 10 days without electricity from the grid. It eliminates the need for high stakes power triage decisions and is projected to save the foundation sixty thousand dollars annually.
Microgrids arm communities with infrastructure that is proven to offset carbon-emissions and save money but most importantly, save lives. Fernandez hopes that SBHF will serve as a model for other community healthcare centers to become more resilient in the face of disaster. To learn more about energy solutions, click here .