Operators are to be pitted against each other in a mandatory scheme to rank and reward the best energy efficiency performers.
All businesses that had at least one half-hourly electricity meter during 2008 must register for the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme by the end of September. Companies across all sectors will be ranked in an annual table.
In hospitality, the scheme is likely to affect those with an energy bill upwards of £500,000.
Some 5,000 organisations will have to register with the Environment Agency and report their emissions. From 2011 they will have to buy allowances for emissions at £12 per tonne of carbon dioxide. When the league tables are published, money raised will be returned to highly ranked organisations.
In 2013 a cap and trade system will be introduced that will enable the top performers to auction allowances.
Tony Grayling, head of climate change and sustainable development at the Environment Agency, said: "If organisations don't take up the challenge, there is a risk to their reputation and their pocket."
John Firrell, director of the Considerate Hoteliers Association, warned: "It is one of those pieces of legislation that has the potential to creep up and bite us on the bum. It may be the big players today, but the plan is to reach SMEs over a relatively short number of years."
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