Saturday 10 May 2008

Going green puts Hidden Valley in the black

The decision by Hidden Valley Cabins to go green has paid dividends with the operator reporting record occupancy levels and a massive reduction in energy expenses. Now the team behind the move wants to help other operators make the switch to sustainable power.

The $75,000 investment into solar panels is set to pay for itself in two years. Diesel prices are skyrocketing and the McLennan family has not turned on their generator since making the switch to green power six months ago.

The maintenance free solar panels aren't just a head turner - with diesel costing $1.80 per litre delivered to the property outside Paluma, and the operation of the generator using upwards of 26,000 litres a year – they're saving the family business $46,800 a year on fuel costs alone.

Operations Manager Ross McLennan said other remote operators face annual bills of between $100,000 and $150,000 for their diesel generators – and the cost is increasing annually.

"We made the switch to solar power in December – since then we've had huge publicity and our numbers have swelled dramatically. We're really surprised that we haven't had to turn on the generator as a back up power supply. Not only have we increased our bookings – but we've significantly decreased our operational costs."

"We're looking to run some workshops at our property to encourage other operators to make the switch to solar. It's a real sustainable solution – it stacks up economically and environmentally," Mr McLennan said.

Townsville Enterprise Destination Marketing and Development Manager Brent Randall applauded the initiative and encouraged other operators to consider their impact on the environment and the savings to be made.

"Hidden Valley Cabins have been recognised as pioneers, leading the country in green initiatives. Their willingness to share their new knowledge with others shows this is more than a marketing ploy – it's about making a difference."

"With rising fuel costs costing regional operators both in bookings and in operational costs any steps to cut back on spending and encourage environmentally conscious visitors are steps we should be making cooperatively as a region."

"In this age of environmental awareness and threats such as global warming – visitors are looking for tourism operators who are committed to sustainable tourism development and an environmentally friendly approach."

Any business interested in learning more about the benefits of solar can contact the Hidden Valley team on 4770 8088.

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