Power outages occur across the United States daily for a multitude of reasons. Whether due to Mother Nature, maintenance or operational failure, hotels and resorts are not immune to outages. Extended power outages in commercial settings can result in loss of business and lead to unsafe conditions for guests and employees.
The 2003 Northeast Blackout set an industry standard for hotels to have some form of backup power generation. In fact, the International Code Council now requires all high-rise buildings in the United States (new and existing) to be equipped with emergency backup power systems. In the hospitality industry, diesel generators have long been a common form of emergency backup power generation, but these systems are starting to give way to newer, cleaner options with expanded utility – the ability to store power to offset not only outages but peak usage periods.
As more businesses are looking to “go green,” a sustainable alternative to diesel or gas generators is energy storage. As a solar installer, it’s beneficial to target hoteliers and educate them on available systems and solutions to help them make informed purchase decisions that best suit the needs of their business. Here are a few ways to communicate the benefits of energy storage systems (ESS) to hoteliers.
Explain the pros and cons
When communicating with hoteliers, know that they may not be as familiar with ESS as the average homeowner. Since diesel generators are the industry hallmark for backup power generation, take the time to explain what an ESS is and how it differs from a traditional fossil fuel or gas generator. For example, diesel generators are known to be noisy, may disrupt the guest experience, and can, therefore, negatively impact the business. Additionally, diesel generators emit carbon monoxide, which is a toxic gas, so well-ventilated locations are critical. While carbon monoxide poisonings are rare at hotels, this is a factor to be mindful of with diesel or gas generators.
Energy storage systems offer many benefits to hoteliers. The upfront investment pays off over time since an ESS often requires less maintenance when compared to fossil fuel generators and can offer another revenue stream to the business. Diesel generators need fuel to remain operational, and due to supply chain shortages and price hikes, these factors can sometimes be unpredictable. Since ESS can be paired with a PV solar system or AC-coupled to the utility grid, the hotel should have emergency backup power if the sun is shining or the ESS has energy stored. If the grid is down for an extended period, hoteliers relying on the grid to power their ESS can stack up to four commercial units together, totaling 1,000 kW of energy for extended use. When paired with sufficient PV, this allows the business to remain operational during the extended event, with reasonable adaptation for the available power, keeping critical systems operating, including life-safety, refrigeration, internet and business machines such as cash registers. Every bit as important is the ongoing storage capability of an ESS that gives the hotel owner the ability to manage ongoing energy usage with the ability to reduce overall energy costs to use saved energy during peak periods when rates are highest.
Capitalize on incentives
With the rise of federal legislation, like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), incentives for tax credits are now available to commercial buildings that are energy efficient. When discussing IRA incentives, some of the most appealing aspects to hotel owners include the ability to claim up to $5 per square foot for energy-efficient commercial buildings deductions.
There are also financial incentives available for hoteliers at a state level through utility companies. In California, PG&E’s Hospitality Money-Back Solutions program offers rebates and incentives for front- and back-of-house solutions, including generators and battery ESS. In New York, National Grid’s Large Business Program incentivizes energy efficiency solutions for commercial businesses. Before speaking with customers, take the time to research what incentives are available in the state their business is operated in to find solutions that best suit their needs.
Give real life examples
Since ESS is relatively new to the industry, some hoteliers might be reluctant to break the mold. In these instances, reference existing hotel ESS installations to ease the customer’s mind. A case study example includes The Sinclair, a Marriot Autograph Collection hotel located in Fort Worth, Texas. Not only did owner Farukh Aslam need an emergency backup power solution that fulfilled both Marriot and regulatory requirements, but he had the vision to seek an energy storage solution that was more sustainable when compared to a traditional diesel generator.
The Sinclair is now home to the world’s first UL 924 lithium-ion ESS to back up all emergency systems at the hotel, including lighting, elevators and stairway pressurization. The Sinclair has become a pioneer for sustainability and innovation in the hospitality industry and is also home to a cutting-edge DC microgrid.
Reducing energy consumption and emphasize cost savings
Energy storage systems can provide power during emergencies and help hoteliers shave costs off their monthly utility bills during peak hours of consumption when prices are the highest. When communicating with hoteliers, it’s beneficial to highlight that reducing energy consumption benefits their business financially and perceptually. Sustainability is rapidly becoming a top priority for consumers and should also be a top priority for hoteliers. By educating hoteliers and providing real-life examples of ESS in action, the industry can better understand the value of alternative energy and make more significant advances toward achieving sustainability goals.
Ruben Willmarth is Senior Sales Engineer for commercial ESS at LG Electronics USA. He has been with LG since 2017. Earlier in his career, Willmarth was with TMAD Taylor & Gaines as a Design Engineer, working with HVAC, co-generation expansion, and conducting energy studies with Los Angeles County hospitals. Willmarth went on to work with Stewart & Stevenson as an Engineering Manager, working with their turnkey power group building standby power plants, landfill gas, and peaking power plants in Central California before joining LG Electronics.
The LG Electronics Energy Storage Systems business represents a fast-growing new area for LG in the United States, leveraging the company’s renewable energy expertise to unlock value for customers and plug into the new era of sustainability. Based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., LG Electronics USA Inc. is the North American subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc., a $68 billion global innovator in technology and manufacturing.