National Energy Bill Vital for America's Future

By Steve Kiesner Director of National Accounts, Edison Electric Institute | January 25, 2009

But electricity, and indeed all energy, is something we can't take for granted. Although most people think about electricity only when they flip on the light switch, the U.S. electric system consists of a massive, interconnected network of generating plants, transmission lines, and distribution facilities.

Energy legislation is needed now to reinforce electric reliability, foster more efficient, competitive electric power markets, promote fuel diversity, and expand our energy supplies and production. At the same time, a national energy bill needs to stress efficiency and the wise use of existing resources. With electricity consumption expected to increase 49 percent between today and 2025, these supply and demand measures are the best long-term solutions for our energy future.

The electric power industry is not alone in seeking a comprehensive energy bill. A recent national poll showed that 87 percent of Americans favor it. Congress has been working on an energy bill for the past three years. Last fall it ended up two votes shy of sending a bill to President Bush. We encourage the hotel industry to voice its support this year for passage of a national energy bill.

Electricity Provisions

The August 2003 blackout dramatically illustrated the growing strain on our nation's electricity grid. The U.S. electric transmission grid consists of nearly 160,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Transmission lines carry electricity from generating plants to areas where electricity is needed. In recent years, the number of transactions on the transmission grid has increased significantly to serve the growing demands for power. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, transmission bottlenecks cost consumers more than $1 billion over the past two summers alone.

The blackout has raised a lot of questions about what can be done to ensure electric reliability. EEI is recommending that energy legislation include the following components to address electric transmission needs:

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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.