The CHARGE Partnership is creating a nationwide resilient power and clean energy program for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).
Motivated by the urgent need to tackle issues at the intersection of health equity, climate change, environmental justice, and financial and operational resiliency, CHARGE is working to create a clean energy solution that will support populations most vulnerable to power outages in areas disproportionately burdened by chronic disease, the impact of poverty, and racial and ethnic health inequities.
CHARGE consists of three mission-oriented organizations working together to support the transition to clean energy throughout the Federally Qualified Health Center sector. In partnership, Collective Energy, Capital Link, and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) will provide a program to educate FQHCs on options and then design, install, and finance cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable power, allowing FQHCs to focus on providing quality care for their patients.
WHAT’S THE ISSUE?
Access to power is essential for health. Patients served by community health centers are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change and have long suffered from unjust policies related to the siting of fossil-fuel fired plants and other dirty industries. Health facilities are unable to serve patients when they lose power: electronic medical records are inaccessible, medical equipment cannot be operated and refrigerated medicines go bad. In many locations, the utility grid is increasingly unreliable. Aging equipment and downed lines along with increasing temperatures and natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires are leading to more regular and longer lasting outages. Lack of reliable power hits low-income communities harder and more often.
Environmental justice calls for investments in health care institutions in low-income communities and governed by the people they serve. FQHCs are ideally positioned to build continuity of operations during the aftermath of extreme weather events. Turning towards solar energy production and storage, community health centers can bolster their ability to provide continuous and equitable care to their communities, especially in times of great need.
WHAT’S THE PLAN TO ADDRESS THIS CHALLENGE?
Access to reliable power will avoid significant financial losses due to closures and lost medicines and allow health centers to remain open to care for patients and serve as community resiliency hubs. CHARGE will draw upon the successful implementation of solar microgrids on health centers in Puerto Rico and California to inform its approach. These health centers withstood grid power outages and weather-related disruptions to provide continuous services to their communities during crisis. CHARGE is a trusted team of mission-oriented partners that will bring a single point of contact solution and offer education,assessment, design, installation, and financing capabilities to make clean and reliable energy options easy and affordable for community health centers. The goal is to fix utility costs, which could free up funds to improve operations, and provide independence from the grid during both planned and unexpected outages. Health centers can have power to operate during grid outages, reduce their carbon footprint, save money year after year, and lead the effort to fight climate change.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) was founded in 1971 to promote efficient, high-quality, comprehensive health care that is accessible, culturally and linguistically competent, community directed, and patient centered for all. NACHC also works closely with chartered State and Regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs) to fulfill their shared health care mission and support the growth and development of community-based health center programs. Learn more >
Collective Energy is a social business specializing in bringing clean and reliable power to non-profit community health centers in the US and abroad. Collective Energy believes that everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have, should have equal and reliable access to health services—even when the power goes out. Learn more >