Hotels, other commercial buildings, and even homes can save money by making energy-saving green investments, and there are government programs that provide subsidized loans to support these investments. The selling point is that the owner saves more money than the improvements cost, and government subsidies tip the scales even more.
The PACE program allows building owners to pay back the loans as part of property taxes. Two months ago I wrote about a Marriott hotel in Missouri charging guests a fee to cover these property taxes, and imposing the fee on award nights even though points stays are supposed to include all taxes.
It turns out that there’s a Hilton billing guests for their property taxes, too. And they’re adding a whopping 7.5% onto room rates to do it, as though it’s a tax based on the daily rate that the guest is paying. Here’s how Hilton’s Curio Collection Tulsa Club Hotel describes the fee,
The hotel is honest that they invested in the building to reduce energy use. That saves them money, and they’re imposing an add-on fee to improve revenue, too. But the hotel claims that the funds are for “a county assessement” that “was approved by the State of Oklahoma.” That makes it sound like an official tax, and is misleading (to be generous).
According to the Department of Energy, “A PACE assessment is a debt of property, meaning the debt is tied to the property” – it is not an assessment on hotel guests, or “7.5% of hotel room revenue” as this hotel suggests.
The hotel claims to have reduced their energy use by around 40%. They pocket those cost savings, and those savings are supposed to pay back subsidized loans – and they make money on the difference. So why are they imposing a fee, through drip-pricing, to charge guests for it – and mislead them about the program?