In a coal state, a hotel goes solar

West Virginia

Coal is to West Virginia, as corn is to Iowa, as the dunk is to Dr. J. It's synonymous. So it's a pretty darn cool polarity when you hear that West Virginia just opened its first solar-powered hotel.

A ribbon-cutting was held yesterday for the new 100-room River Riders Family Adventure Resort, in the former Cliffside Quality Inn. The hotel, after a full-scale renovation, will join Choice Hotels' Clarion chain.

Getting to the solar bit: A 289-panel solar array, designed and installed by Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., was placed on the back side of the hotel's roof to take full advantage of sunlight, reports the Herald-Mail.


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The panels are expected to produce enough electricity to save about $10,000 in annual energy costs, reports say.

Matt Knott, owner of the hotel, said they are by no means finished, and will be working with National Capital Investment Fund to do an energy audit for the property.

“We’re going to look at all of our electrical use – literally every fixture, every appliance, everything we have, determine how much electric is used and then see if it’s beneficial to upgrade to a newer type of device that uses less electric,” he told West Virginia's Metro News.

Most would not associate solar with West Virginia, known for its coal mines and blue-collar pedigree. This is certainly a progressive moment for the state and its doubly important that the hospitality industry is part of it all. It's not only a sound environmental move, it also shows energy and cost savings.

“It’s a project that will actually be cash positive through the entire time," Knott said. "The savings that we’re seeing in the first year with the tax credit and grants will pay the principle and interest over the whole loan, so it’s just that good of a deal,” he said after the ceremony."


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The openings consist of a dual-branded property in San Jose, Calif.; a Hyatt Place in Vacaville, Calif.; and a Residence Inn by Marriott outside Seattle.

Matthew Whiteheart brings almost 15 years of hospitality experience to his new role as general manager of the 74-room North Carolina hotel.

Christoph Eichbaum has joined the investment management hospitality team headed by Andreas Löcher.