OCEAN CITY – The solar panels that sit atop Park Place hotel have been fully operational for over a week and already they are making an impact.
Hotel Manager Todd Berger said that the project, which cost roughly $100,000, has not only made the hotel greener, but has also started to turn a few heads around town.
“This really is forward thinking and people are starting to take notice. For a small family-owned and operated property to take on a venture like this is huge in spreading the word on how important alternative energy is, and just how economical it will be,” he said.
Berger said that the solar panels, which will generate enough power to cut his water heating bill in half, will generate an estimated $400,000 in savings for the hotel over the course of the panel’s 20-30-year life expectancy.
“I think people get scared of the numbers. If you take a couple zeros off of it, and I were to tell you to give me $1,000 and it will turn into $4,000 in savings, why wouldn’t you do it? It doesn’t matter how many zeros are on the number, these panels have been proven to get you back almost four times what you spent,” he said.
Berger said that the 36 panels on the hotel’s roof have been working nonstop to store energy for the building, despite the hotel currently being closed until spring.
“Even last week when it was bitterly cold, I was getting 120-degree hot water from the tanks, so they are working, and they are working well,” he said.
Word has started to spread throughout town of Park Place Hotel’s solar panel project and it caught the eye of Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association who booked Berger and Eastern Shore Solar, the Salisbury-based company who installed the 36 solar panels on the Park Place Hotel roof, to give a seminar at the association’s 35th annual tradeshow to be held in March.
“This year, the theme of the tradeshow is ‘conserve while you serve’ and we want to help bring the concept of greening the industry to Ocean City,” said Jones, “Seminars are always a part of tradeshows, and we think that it’s a wonderful way to help spread the word around town about one of the biggest trends in the tourism industry.”
Jones praised Park Place Hotel for being the first to “take the first big step” in greening their hotel, and thinks that many will follow suit in the future.
“I think it will generate a lot of publicity for Park Place Hotel on a national level, because that’s the big thing out there right now, and studies have shown that visitors want a green environment to stay in on their vacation,” said Jones.
In the long run, Berger said that the solar panels that sit atop the hotel is nothing that is re-inventing the wheel, calling it “just copper tubing and plumbing under those panels” but the real impact could be if other hotels and businesses in Ocean City start to take this energy efficiency seriously.
“When everybody in an industry steps up and does something like this as a group, it can truly have a major impact on the way everyone does things. To have our whole association step forward and make an effort towards saving the planet and our resources is just tremendous. The support we have gotten from other members regarding our installing solar hot water panels has been gratifying and we’d love to see more of this type of thing happen here and really make Ocean City a leader in the "green travel" industry to go along with being a great beach vacation destination.”