How solar panels generate financial savings

This article is part three of a three-part series on energy management. Part one can be found here and part two can be found here.

In July 2015, the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Danbury, Conn., installed 400 solar panels on the rooftops of two of its five buildings to generate 132,000 watts of solar electricity. The 113-room hotel, owned by Diamond Properties and managed by Meyer Jabara Hotels, is significantly reducing its carbon footprint by receiving 18 percent of its annual energy from the sun.

“The better we can manage the consuming of energy, gas and water, the more money we can bring to the bottom line,” said Justin Jabara, MJH’s VP of development and acquisition.

The hotel is now saving approximately $1,500 a month in energy costs and earning $16,000 annually in renewable energy credits. Connecticut offers a low/zero renewable energy credit program that pays properties for every kilowatt of solar electricity produced. The average retail price for electricity in Connecticut was 23 cents per kilowatt hour in 2015, compared to a national average of about 13 cents/kWh.

“The state of Connecticut, which has the second highest electricity prices in our country, has a great solar energy credit program,” Jabara said. “Companies that use solar energy are paid for every kilowatt of solar electricity produced. The hotel’s owner, Jim Diamond of Diamond Properties, saw adding solar panels to his hotel’s rooftops as a great opportunity to offset energy costs.”

For hotels looking to invest in solar energy, Jabara said hoteliers should check if the hotel’s municipality offers renewable energy credits. “Among our properties we have seen a great return for our green focus,” he said. “First of all, being green is the right thing to do. We have one Earth and we need to preserve that for the futures of our children and generations to come. There are many green initiatives that have little impact on your operation but make a big difference.  Recycling is a great example of this.

“Secondly, being green it is something that also impacts us financially,” he continued. “Our guests are looking for it so we see it on the top line but also it reduces utilities and other costs so more cash flows to the bottom line.”

The La Quinta Inn & Suites Danbury is embracing sustainability in a holistic way, and rooftop solar panels are just one of the hotel’s many green initiatives.

“We were one of the first hotels in Danbury to install a charge-point station for powering electric vehicles,” said GM Stacey Pacific. “Our parking lots, public areas, guestrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchen and offices are equipped with low-wattage LED lighting from Xeleum Lighting LLC, and guestrooms feature digital thermostats from Inncom by Honeywell. We have programs in place to conserve water as well. We’ve insulated our boiler pipes, installed water flow reducers in bathrooms, and guests are happily participating in our towel reuse program.”