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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.