Study Outlines High Energy Usage Profile Of Bahamas Hotels

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A study which looked at the energy usage profile of hotels in Jamaica, Barbados and The Bahamas, which was recently completed by the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action (CHENACT) program, showed The Bahamas had the highest per-guest-night energy usage of hotels observed.

The CHENACT team presented its findings yesterday, revealing that The Bahamas' fuel surcharge has a lot to do with the high electricity costs experienced by hotels in The Bahamas. According to CHENACT Regional Programme Manager Loreto Duffy-Mayers, the fuel surcharge serves as a "disincentive” to reducing local energy consumption.

"You're making money out of the energy that is actually being used," she said.

The study revealed that resorts' largest energy expense comes primarily from air conditioning units, and then from lighting. The study also found that The Bahamas tops Barbados and Jamaica in the amount of energy consumed from the use of air conditioning.

Duffy-Mayers explained that The Bahamas' North American clientele and its variations in weather are the reasons for its extensive use of cooling systems, as most local hotels have closed lobbies. She said many hotels in Jamaica and Barbados utilize open lobbies that are not climate controlled – providing significant energy savings.

The CHENACT study in The Bahamas ran from 2013 to 2016 and audited 37 properties in Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, Long Island and Nassau/Paradise Island.

The program was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, Dutch Fund, the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the government of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).

The objective of CHENACT is to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized hotels in the Caribbean region through improved use of energy, with the emphasis on renewable energy and micro-generation.

The CHENACT pilot project was in Barbados, and phase two was extended to The Bahamas and Jamaica, with additional support being extended to other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The study looked at 17 small hotels in The Bahamas, one medium-sized hotel, one large hotel and two extra-large hotels.

Of the audit numbers mined from hotels in The Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados, this country had the highest average energy cost per room, per year – upward of $5,000.

While the CHENACT program produced “detailed” energy audit reports for all of the participating properties, the team lamented the costs associated with implementing the energy efficiency upgrades at each property, further confounded by the difficulty of obtaining funding for such upgrades.

Andre Escalante, of Energy Dynamics Limited, which conducted the energy audits, said there are many barriers to obtaining financing, especially for small and medium-size resorts.

Escalante pointed to limited internal funds, lack of capacity from banks due to lending risks and poor communication between project developers and financiers as just some of the barriers facing Caribbean hotels.

The Nassau Guardian
February 8, 2017