Feature: Clean Solar Power and Solar Hot Water for Maine’s Hospitality Industry
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Maine summers thrive with tourists from all over the world seeking to experience the pristine coastal landscape, feast on the abundance of seafood, and enjoy the historic New England culture.
The hospitality industry is an essential part of Maine’s economy. According to the Maine Planning Office “the economic impact of tourism in Maine is huge. In 2006 it generated roughly $10 billion in sales of goods and services, 140,000 jobs, and $3 billion in earnings.”
To ensure a sustainable future for the hospitality industry, lodging and restaurant owners are starting to take measures to mitigate their energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Reduced Oil Use Means Obvious ROI
For example, it takes an average of 2.4 gallons of hot water to prepare each meal served in a restaurant. Michael Boland, owner of Rupununi’s Restaurant in Bar Harbor, is using a solar hot water system to reduce oil consumption. “Our oil bill has been dramatically reduced since we put in the system,” say Boland, who subsequently had solar hot water installed at his other restaurant, Guinness & Porcelli’s.
“From an investment standpoint, solar hot water is a very wise one for restaurant owners. Usually you buy equipment and hope it lasts 5-10 years, and hope that the new piece increases efficiency enough to sort of pay its way. But with these (solar) panels, the savings have been obvious.”
Green Initiatives are Great for Marketing
Green initiatives can be a powerful marketing tool to distinguish a lodging facility or restaurant from its competition. As consumers are more aware of how their purchasing power can enact change, they are demanding that businesses they support be mindful and supportive of their environment.
Scott Cowger, owner of Maple Hill Farm B&B in Hallowell, has invested heavily in renewable energy systems to make his facility one of the first to earn recognition as an Environmental Leader in Maine.
The state Environmental Leader program certifies businesses that meet a certain criteria, i.e. energy efficient upgrades, use of non-toxic cleaning products, and the implementation of renewable energy. The Innkeepers can use the state’s Environmental Leader logo for marketing purposes and consumers seem to be taking notice.
Cowger estimates that 20 percent of his customers choose Maple Hill Farm because of the inn’s green practices. Maple Hill Farm has solar hot water, solar power and a wind turbine, all installed by ReVision Energy.
The systems have saved more than $20,000 in power costs over the past 2 years and eliminated more than 40,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions. Read more about Maine’s Environmental Leader program.
The Case for Commercial Solar Power and Solar Hot Water
ReVision Energy has put together a financial analysis for commercial solar hot water, called How Solar Hot Water Can be a Great Investment – PDF.
If you are interested to learn about how solar can be a cash flow positive investment for your facility, contact us.