City of Las Vegas to get 100% of its electricity from renewable energy

In advance of the COP 21 climate meetings in Paris next month, the commitments to renewable energy are pouring in. The last week saw new, ambitious renewable energy targets in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as a move by New York State to create regulations to enforce a goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

The latest jurisdiction in North America to make such a pledge is the City of Las Vegas, which is known more for the casinos on its brightly lit strip than for sustainability. On Tuesday Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced that the city is pursuing purchase of electricity from a utility-scale solar project that will move it to 100% renewables in its electricity supply.

Utility NV Energy already holds a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sunpower for the output of the 100 MW-AC Boulder Solar project. The city is seeking a receive a portion of the electricity from this project through a partnership with the utility, which must still be approved by state regulators and the Las Vegas City Council.

“One thing people are surprised by is how environmentally conscious Las Vegas is when all they know appears to be less than sustainable,” noted Las Vegas Mayor Goodman.

“However, we are proud to join other community and business leaders who are all leaders in conservation. If the approvals happen we will become the first city of our size in the nation to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for city operations.”

In September, the State of California made a commitment to procure 100% of the electricity for the buildings in the state capitol from renewable energy sources, through a program under municipal utility SMUD.

NV Energy has cited clean energy commitments from a number of other businesses, including MGM Resorts, Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming, Cesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands.

MGM Resort’s Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas currently hosts one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the world, a 6.2 MW PV plant installed in 2014.