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BHA calls for greater energy savings

Speaking at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, Frank Comito, executive VP at the Bahamas Hotel Association, said that the organization had completed an audit of the country’s hotel sector as regards energy usage. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) is calling for greater energy efficiency in the hotel sector and urging the government to help businesses make energy savings through financial incentives.

Executive vice-president of the BHA, Frank Comito, says that hotels in The Bahamas use 40 per cent of the country’s electricity, and they could cut their consumption by as much as 53 per cent by adopting energy-saving practices.

Speaking at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, held at Atlantis Paradise Island earlier this month, Comito said the BHA had completed an audit of the country’s hotel sector with help from the Bahamian government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The audit, which took place in late 2009, early 2010, showed that energy costs per room were $37–higher than that of North America or Europe–and only 45 per cent of hotels schedule regular equipment maintenance to ensure efficiency.

In addition, most hotels were not taking advantage of opportunities to cut their costs through more energy-saving equipment. Only 33 per cent used air conditioning fitted with motion detectors, 16 per cent used timed light switches and only 22 per cent said they consciously monitored their energy consumption.

“There are considerable opportunities for hotels to reduce their costs and a need for training and awareness,” Comito said in announcing the results of the audit. “There’s plenty of opportunity for savings.”

The vice president said he was particularly concerned about the effect of costs on small hotels struggling in the highly competitive sector. “Our smaller hotels find it very difficult,” he said. “We need to find innovative financing. Greater attention must be paid to assisting small hoteliers.”

Comito suggested that a shift in government policy is needed to incentivize energy efficiency. Following the results of the audit, the BHA and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce have made a number of key policy recommendations, including expanding the category of duty exemptions to include energy saving equipment and developing financial mechanisms to help support investment in energy efficiency.

In addition, the BHA and the chamber would like to see a change in the meter reading system whereby instead of charging hotels based on a meter reading of their peak usage taken once a year, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation would take readings monthly or quarterly.

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Panel discussion at energy forum addresses emerging technologies and possible solutions to the region's growing waste disposal problems, and calls for government support.

Charles Galante, managing partner of New York-based Real Infrastructure Capital Partners LLC notes that numerous island nations face regulatory issues when trying to develop or implement renewable energy strategies.

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