EDH non-profit shows off newly completed solar installation

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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A major new solar power installation opened on Aug. 1 to help Blue Shield of California achieve a significant milestone in its 2020 environmental goals.

The non-profit company announced a series of initiatives in 2015 to help meet its 30 percent renewable energy goal. With more than 6,400 panels providing approximately 3.5 million kilowatt-hours annually, Blue Shield’s project is also one of the largest solar installations in El Dorado Hills.

“Really a no-brainer to invest in renewable energy that’s better for the environment, better for our health by reducing greenhouse gases, and it’s better for our business by reducing operational costs,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. “We can redirect our resources towards achieving our mission of providing high-quality affordable healthcare.”

The cumulative cost savings of the El Dorado Hills solar investments throughout 20 years is estimated to be more than $3.5 million, compared to standard utility rates. It will also provide 954 covered parking spaces for the company’s 1,300 employees at the office complex.

Blue Shield developed the installation, as well as last year’s installation at its office in Lodi, using Tesla’s solar panels. The combined projects are expected to produce approximately 5 million kilowatt-hours annually, offsetting an estimated 24,276 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions throughout the course of 20 years.

Blue Shield is making measurable progress in achieving its four 2020 environmental goals, which include 30 percent of its electricity consumption powered by renewable energy and 30 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction. With the completion of the El Dorado Hills project in 2018, Blue Shield will achieve its 2020 renewable energy goal and an estimated 22 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The El Dorado Hills solar installation should help Blue Shield avoid an estimated 841 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions on an annual basis throughout the next two decades, based on the United States EPA’s most recently published regional emission factor. This impressive reduction in carbon dioxide is equivalent to 18.4 million pounds of coal burned or greenhouse gas emissions from 41.2 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.