Getting Tax Credits, Where Credits Are Due

By Steve Kiesner Director of National Accounts, Edison Electric Institute | May 04, 2010

American innovation, science and technology continue to transform the way our country produces and uses energy. During the past 30 years, our nation's economy grew three times faster than its energy consumption. America created more than 55 million jobs. It cut air pollution by 50 percent. The efficient use of energy, through sustained technology development, has played a large role in this progress-we are doing more with less.

Looking ahead, continued efficiency gains are part of the reason why the nation's energy intensity, measured as energy use per dollar of gross domestic product (in 2000 dollars), is projected to continue dropping, falling an average of 1.8 percent per year through 2030. As America has become more energy efficient, it has also increased its use of electricity. This trend is expected to continue. Over the next 25 years, the nation's electricity use is projected to grow by nearly 50-percent.

To help meet this demand for electricity, EEI and its member electric utilities across the country are offering hotels and all utility customers a variety of energy efficiency programs and services. We are also encouraging you to take advantage of the many the federal tax deductions and tax credits offered through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct).

As I commented in my previous columns this year, EPAct contains a variety of initiatives and incentives to boost your company's overall energy efficiency. This information is worth repeating. Combining a utility's efficiency services with the tax incentives will give you a powerful tool for getting the most value from your energy dollar.

One way the new energy law will help you is by creating higher energy-efficiency standards for a variety of commercial equipment. These products include:

For commercial refrigerators, freezers, and commercial icemakers, new efficiency standards will go into effect January 1, 2010 (standards for door-less refrigerators and freezers will go into effect by January 1, 2012). Electric heating and cooling equipment (packaged air conditioners and heat pumps) will also see new efficiency standards by January 2010.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.