KVMH shaves thousands off monthly electric bill with new energy generator

Officials at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital at the West Kauai Medical Center in Waimea have cut around $10,000 a month off their electric bill, and could save over $100,000 tric a year on energy costs, with a generator that makes electricity.

And that doesn’t include the savings from not having to pay as much for propane and diesel fuel to make hot water, and chilled water for airconditioning systems, said Herman Chong, regional facilities director for Kaua’i for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, whose leaders operate both KVMH and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in Kapa’a. The co-generation unit at KVMH generates electricity, and the heat from the engine is used to heat water both for hot-water and air-conditioning needs, he said.

Chong came up with the savings amounts in terms of lower bills from Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative, compared to KVMH bills before the co-generation unit was installed, he said. The savings do not include generator maintenance costs, but are still substantial.

The savings also do not include what Chong called “other offset savings,” those being amounts which used to be spent for other energy costs, to create hot water, and for airconditioning needs.

Power at KVMH is created using a Caterpillar, engine-driven generator, and the heat from the engine heats water for hospital hot-water needs. Other heated water goes into an absorption chiller, where it interacts with a chemical agent that pre-cools the water before it goes into the main air-conditioning chiller.

The savings is achieved by precooling the chill water before it goes into the electric-driven chiller, therefore lowering the load on the chiller, Chong explained.

The people at KIUC have helped out immensely, he said. “KIUC has been a wonderful partner in this project, totally. They have been totally supportive,” Chong said.

There is no large, central air-conditioning system at Mahelona, so Chong and others are exploring the possibility of installing a photovoltaic system to save on energy costs there, he said.

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