New system could slash $3m from hospital bill
Government is to consider the possibility of introducing alternative energy technology at the newly-built acute care wing in the hope of saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
Government Senator Nalton Brangman told The Royal Gazette that King Edward VII Memorial Hospital has energy bills of around $4 million a year, while the new acute care wing — scheduled to open in September — will run up similar bills.
But installing a tri-generation system could slash electricity bills by more than $3 million a year, which could be passed on to taxpayers according to Sen Brangman.
Tri-generation, also called cogeneration, produces electricity, heat and cooling all in one process. A generator produces electricity and heat, with exhaust heat then being used to create pressurised hot water and cold water for air conditioners. According to some experts, the system can cut fuel bills by around 30 percent. The system also produces less greenhouse gases.
“The present model of operations uses utility based electricity, diesel fired boilers and electric based air-conditioning,” Sen Brangman said.
“In this new model, electricity is cheaper as is the cost of the steam and chilled water.”
Sen Brangman, a long-time supporter of alternative energy, said he had urged the former Government to have new energy systems drawn into the plans when it first commissioned the new hospital wing.
“I lobbied the previous Government to put in the new technology because it would provide savings,” he said.
“But it was never designed or developed or deployed. The former Government did some good things such as creating the Department of Energy in 2008, but really, if there is no implementation, it's just dialogue.
“This technology is now 30 years old and used in almost every country around the world. Hospitals, in particular, are major users of this technology.”
Sen Brangman claimed the new acute care wing would result in further increases in healthcare costs.
“This increase, given the present climate of concern over rising healthcare costs should cause all of us to pay close attention,” he said.
“Clearly there will probably be an effort to lay the blame for this increase at the feet of the One Bermuda Alliance, when in fact this is part of the consequence of the previous Government not using the tools they had in front of them. The increase in the cost of operations has been significantly higher because the previous Bermuda Hospitals Board and the former Government did not seek to implement alternative energy strategies.
“But this isn't about political bickering — we all agree that we want the entire population to get quality healthcare, but we have to make it cost-effective,” he said.
The Senator said Government and the BHB will review the possibility of implementing the cost-saving measure in the near term, even though there are no funds available.
“There are other financing options that can be brought to the table for both Government and the BHB, “ he said.
Sen Brangman was unable to provide a timeline of when the new technology could be “bolted on”, but said that a review would get underway shortly.
And he pointed out that, while he had at one time owned a company that had an interest in alternative energy technology firms, he had since closed the company down and currently has no financial or employment interests in the field.
“I'm not on the payroll, I'm not employed by any of these companies and I have no pecuniary interest in any of them,” Sen Brangman said.