InterContinental Hotel buys 15 million kilowatt hours of wind power
By Rachel Tannenbaum
While more than 1,300 Green Power Partners collectively buy nearly 21 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, The InterContinental Miami is the largest green power purchaser in Florida.
The hotel was added to the 100% purchased list maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership when it partnered with Greenlight Energy to buy 15.47 million kilowatt-hours of wind power during 2012, according to a press release.
The Green Power Partnership is an industry-government partnership that helps increase the use of green power.
The InterContinental brand began offering its hotels in New York, San Francisco and Miami wind energy last year, said Aurelia Vasquez, marketing and communications for the Miami hotel.
"The government is really promoting wind energy and green power and trying to make it available," she said.
The purchase is offsetting the hotel's carbon footprint and greenhouse gases, reducing greenhouse gases by 2,000 passenger vehicles each year, Ms. Vasquez said.
The purchase also earned the hotel membership in the partnership's Leadership Club.
To join the Leadership Club, the partner must use at least 30% green power, the Environmental Protection Agency said in response to questions. Leadership Club members represent all types of organizations in the Green Power Partnership, including Fortune 500 companies; small and mid-size businesses; local, state and federal governments; and colleges and universities. Currently, 651 partners are on the 100% purchasers list.
According to the hotel company, to qualify for the Leadership Club a partner must use ten times the club's minimum green power use percentage.
Ms. Vasquez said to compute how much wind power the hotel needed to buy, a formula was created to estimate what the InterContinental spends yearly on electricity to determine number of kilowatt hours needed.
To buy the wind power, Ms, Vasquez said, the hotel bought wind-generated renewable energy certificates equal to its total annual electricity consumption. The wind energy purchase supports the creation of green energy and helps to reduce the hotel's carbon footprint.
"You can buy any range — from 15% energy to 100%," Ms. Vasquez said.
Although The InterContinental Miami bought wind credits, Ms. Vasquez said the hotel still uses energy from FPL and simply bought wind power to match the consumption.
"Our purchase matches what we traditional spend on power," Ms. Vasquez said.
Hotels operate every day all day, Ms. Vasquez noted, which is why the hotel's energy bill is so high.
The InterContinental is not the only South Florida hotel to buy wind energy or to have a partnership with the EPA. Fifty percent of Palm Beach's The Breakers energy comes from green sources purchased through Renewable Choice Energy.
To join the Green Power Partnership, a partner with an organization-wide electric load of over 100 million kilowatt-hours must meet a minimum of 3% of its overall electric use from green power sources.
The Breakers — in its second year of green energy — purchased 13 million kilowatt-hours, about half of its electrical use, said Rick Hawkins, hotel director of materials management.
Although both hotels said the wind power purchases cost more than carbon-based energy, they said it's important to go green.
"Florida is not conducive for wind farming, so it is expensive to go green," Ms. Vasquez said. "You can't see the wind energy everyday. It's not like recycling bins when you see the trash adding up, but it is there and it is helpful to the environment."
The added charge for green energy isn't overwhelming, Mr. Hawkins said, and someday it will become more affordable.
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