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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply

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Thursday, May 23, 2024   

Alliance Medical Center in Healdsburg just switched on new solar panels and battery backup as part of a plan to make the clinic more resilient to power outages in a region prone to deadly blazes.

The $495,000 system comes thanks to a grant from the nonprofit Direct Relief.

Sue Labbe, CEO of Alliance Medical Center in Healdsburg, said it will keep the lights on if the local power company cuts electricity when high winds raise the risk of wildfire.

"We have to come to a screeching halt, try and figure out alternative plans to transfer patients to other locations, or postpone care to another day," Labbe explained. "Which really is difficult when we serve a population of patients that are very vulnerable and don't always have their own transportation."

The clinic in Sonoma County has had to evacuate twice in the past several years due to wildfire. Direct Relief has completed five similar microgrids at clinics in Laguna Beach, Los Molinos, Magalia, Mendocino and Ventura, and 16 other sites around the nation. More are underway.

The system can power the Healdsburg clinic's first floor for 15 hours. Labbe pointed out it means the pharmacy will not have to close during an outage.

"When we lose power, we can't distribute medications," Labbe noted. "For some of our patients that are uninsured, that's the only place they can get medication. It also allows us to maintain the integrity of our medication stored on-site, as well as our vaccines. In the 2017 Tubbs fire, we lost over $30,000 worth of vaccines."

The system also cycles on solar and battery backup power during peak hours, which she said saves on energy costs and reduces the building's carbon footprint.

Disclosure: Direct Relief contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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