With energy prices soaring, officials at Gundersen Health System say their commitment to independent and clean energy has proven to be even more significant to reduce the financial burden of health care on its patients.
Since 2010, Gundersen has been involved in two wind farms, including a partnership with Organic Valley in Cashton and another site in Lewiston, Minnesota. Each site has two turbines that can generate enough electricity to power about 1,200 homes annually. The wind farms also support local grid resiliency, which lessens the impact of power outages during extreme weather and natural disasters.
The wind farms were developed by Gundersen’s Envision team, which develops energy initiatives that lower the cost of health care and create clean, renewable energy. Paul Heath, operations manager of Gundersen Envision, said the turbines are accomplishing that goal.
People are also reading…
“The energy produced is put on the power grid, which results in lowering the cost of health care for our patients,” Heath said.
In addition to lowering health care costs, the creation of clean and renewable energy is also beneficial to the overall health of the communities Gundersen serves. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, clean energy generated from sources like wind farms has been shown to reduce the risk of premature death, heart attacks and asthma issues. It also reduces hospitalizations for other cardiovascular and respiratory issues.
“It supports our communities through improving the health of our communities by improving air quality with clean, renewable energy,” Heath said.
Gundersen’s commitment to renewable energy has also helped the organization attract new medical staff.
“We have clinicians say the energy policies of Gundersen is a major factor in their decision to join our health organization,” Heath said.
In 2014, Gundersen became the first health care system in the country to be energy independent and produce more energy than it consumed. Beyond wind farms, the organization has invested in other clean energy sources to reduce the cost of health care, including geothermal energy, solar panels, zero-energy new building construction and a biomass boiler.