Gundersen Health System using wind to create clean electricity

Project represents 7 percent of Gundersen’s energy independence goal

La Crosse, Wis. – March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Gundersen Health System’s environmental stewardship program, Envision®, is providing leadership for the healthcare industry and demonstrating that “green” is a healthy, socially responsible and economically beneficial strategy. The La Crosse, Wis.-based health system’s latest renewable energy project is harnessing energy from the wind to create electricity.

Gundersen recently built a two-turbine wind farm just north of Lewiston, Minn. The wind farm is generating 4.95 megawatts of energy—enough to power about 1,400 homes. The electricity the turbines generate is fed into the energy grid and used by homes and businesses. Gundersen, in turn, is paid for the energy created. The project represents about 7 percent of Gundersen’s energy independence goal.

“Creating renewable energy through projects like the wind farm ties directly to Gundersen’s mission of improving the health of the communities we serve,” explains Jeff Rich, executive director, GL Envision, LLC.

In addition, the money generated from renewable energy projects, like the wind farm, and the money saved through energy conservation at the health system can be passed on to patients in the form of lower healthcare costs. “It’s a win-win all around,” Rich says.

“Wind is an abundant natural resource in our region. When we decided to control our energy utilization, we wanted to use what was available to us. From biogas to biomass and now wind, we are capitalizing on our surroundings to the fullest,” he adds.

The Lewiston wind farm is one of two wind projects with which Gundersen is involved. The health system is also collaborating on a two-turbine project in Cashton, Wis., with Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand. That project is expected to be complete by summer 2012.

The wind projects are just a small piece of Gundersen’s plan to lower energy costs and lead the healthcare industry in environmental stewardship through their Envision® program. The health system’s goal is to become 100 percent energy independent by 2014, making it the first health system in the country to reach this designation. By the end of 2009, they improved energy efficiency by 25 percent using low-cost or no-cost energy conservation efforts. Gundersen’s remaining energy needs will be met with energy that they produce.

For more information on Gundersen’s Envision® program, go to www.gundluth.org/green.