The City of Las Vegas recently announced it has achieved its goal to draw 100 percent of power for its city facilities from renewable energy sources.
As of December 9, the city is powering more than 140 facilities — including all city government buildings, parks, recreation centers, streetlights and traffic signals — through a combination of direct generation and renewable energy credits.
Progress toward the goal – which was announced in 2008 - gained momentum about a year ago when the city expanded its partnership with NVEnergy. The goal was fully realized with the recent commencement of operation of Boulder Solar 1, a large-scale solar farm near Boulder City.
“The City of Las Vegas is one of the few cities in the entire world that can boast using all of its power from a green source,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a press conference. “We have become a world leader in sustainability.”
While unsure about what percentage of power this represents for the entertainment capital of the world as a whole, David Riggleman, Communications Director for the City of Las Vegas, said via email that the city’s power bill, which was about $15 million a year, has been reduced to about $5 million. In addition, the city government’s carbon footprint is basically the same today as it was in 1950.
The city also generates energy to power on-site facilities with tree-shaped solar panels in its City Hall plaza, solar shade canopies at city parks and solar arrays on rooftops and on the wastewater treatment plant. While most of the city’s energy now comes from the strong Southern Nevada sun, it will soon also be drawn from hydropower: By the end of 2017, the city will for the first time begin drawing power from Hoover Dam.
Las Vegas is now the largest U.S. city to be powered entirely by renewable energy. The second-largest city - Burlington, Vermont - achieved this status in 2014.
Though the City’s announcement doesn’t pertain to private residences and most businesses, Vegas’ sustainability efforts are augmented by those of companies such as MGM Resorts – which owns hotel/casinos including the MGM Grand, The Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, the Monte Carlo and more – which in 2014 installed over 21,000 solar panels atop Mandalay Bay’s convention center, the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center. MGM said at the time the array was expected to provide 6.4 megawatts of clean energy to the complex, enough to power 1,000 U.S. homes while displacing about 6,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Wynn Resorts is also looking to invest in renewables.
Despite uncertainty as to whether the U.S. will continue to play a part in global renewable energy adoption and fossil fuel reduction, businesses, cities and governments worldwide continue to plow forward on their commitments to foster a clean-energy economy.