In Utilities by Clyde Mooney

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Recent findings by the Turnbull government’s Energy Committee show the cost of electricity has more than doubled for most businesses since 2007.

As the Liberal and Labor parties debate the merits of reviving coal as a short-term solution versus investing in renewables, the current edition of PubTIC magazine explores the state of power.

(Extract – PubTIC February Energy: Making It, Saving It. Life’s other essential)

As energy prices soar, solar is becoming more and more attractive financially. Even though subsidies may have been eroded, that has been counteracted by the significant drop in the price of solar panels.

A question hospitality operators ask is: where does solar work well? Does a roof in Northern Queensland receive more solar rays than a counterpart down south? Ben Wallington, energy consultant at Leading Edge Energy, said that is not necessarily the case.

“Being further north does make a bit of a difference, but a pub can run just as effectively on solar in Melbourne as it can in Rockhampton. It’s got a lot to do with roof space, design and placement of the panels.”

However, solar doesn’t suit everyone. Pubs and hotels are looking for ways to save energy and there are several things to take into consideration. What type of system best suits your needs? Are you running as energy-efficiently as you can? The biggest gobblers of power in pubs are generally refrigeration, heating and cooling, and lighting. If you haven’t already had an energy management specialist look into your energy usage, then that is a good place to start.

The rapidly rising cost of energy means everyone is looking for ways to reduce their usage and bills, further complicating the increasing challenges associated with climate change. The debate on addressing climate change isn’t helped by the politics driving Australia’s energy policies. Former Prime Minister Abbott’s pledge to raise renewable energy’s share of national electricity production to 23.5 per cent by 2020 is looking less likely given the instability that has come with the election of ­Donald Trump. The commitment made by the Obama administration at the 2015 Paris climate conference, to lower US greenhouse emissions to at least 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, will now most likely either be abandoned or ignored by Trump. That would leave Australia in a tenuous position that could make it in our best interests to also back away from the Paris deal.

Politics or not, Hunt Hospitality’s Stephen Hunt says the rising cost of energy has definitely affected their profit and loss and approach to power consumption. At his venues the Kent Hotel in Newcastle and the Rutherford Hotel east of Maitland, he is always on the lookout for new technology and tricks to reduce consumption.

“It’s about being a lot smarter. We are always looking for ways to save energy. Energy-saving lights and water systems are a sensible option in today’s environment.

“Sure, it may cost a little more to invest in energy-saving equipment, such as refrigeration and lighting, but the long-run benefits far outweigh the initial outlay,” he stresses. “I’m really into conservation, and saving energy not only saves me dollars but it is helping the environment at the same time.”