Time to Maximize Energy Savings
By Steve Kiesner Director of National Accounts, Edison Electric Institute | May 04, 2010
The U.S. lodging industry spends close to $4 billion on energy every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If hotels could improve their energy performance by an average of 30 percent, the hotel industry would see a savings of approximately $365 per available room night per year for every hotel room in the country. The good news is that there are many simple steps your staff can take to use energy more efficiently. And the great news is that electric utilities can help you.
The forecast for natural gas prices
According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/contents.html), hotels and other commercial customers are expected to have paid a national average of about 10 percent more for natural gas in 2008 than in 2007-$12.48 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) versus $11.31/mcf. A few regions, New England-$15.00/mcf; Mid-Atlantic-$13.85/mcf; South Atlantic-$14.25/mcf; and the East South Central-$13.62/mcf can expect to see prices higher than the national average. Keep in mind that the price for a therm of gas is at an historical high. Today's price is a little more than double the price in the 1990s. Prices in 2009 are expected to be about the same as in 2008.
For electricity, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the nation's commercial sector will see about a six percent increase in prices nationwide. Again, some regions of the country, notably New England, Mid-Atlantic and the Pacific, can expect to see higher prices. All consumers-industrial, commercial and residential-are feeling the effects of the higher-energy prices. High prices for natural gas, electricity, heating oil and transportation fuels are having a ripple effect throughout the economy.
Utilities that use natural gas to generate electricity also are feeling the pinch. Electric utilities do not benefit from higher energy prices, since they are often "caught" between high fuel costs and regulatory limitations on electricity rates. Like consumers, these utilities are seeking to use natural gas as efficiently as possible and are switching to fuels that are more economical whenever it is feasible.
There are no quick and easy answers to our energy policy challenges. Increasing the supply and diversity of our nation's available energy resources involves long-term solutions. Eighty-five percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. is produced domestically, and almost all the remainder of our supply is imported from Canada. New North American supplies and infrastructure need to be developed for the future, especially in those areas that are currently restricted or off limits in the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic and Pacific coastal areas.