Las Vegas becomes the largest US city to run solely on renewable energy

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Renewable energy is gradually moving from the shadows and into the limelight with major projects underway, or already completed, around the world, now Las Vegas is the latest in a string of cities to meet all of its energy needs from renewables


 

On Monday, after the launch of the NVEnergy 100 Megawatt Boulder Solar II energy plant just outside of the city, the Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, announced that Vegas, the “City of lights”, had finally reached its decade long goal of powering the entire city with renewable energy. And in the process it’s become America’s largest city to be completely powered with renewable energy, ahead of Burlington, Vermont who achieved the goal back in 2014.

 

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Using a combination of direct generation and credits, the entire city, from facilities to streetlights, are powered with solar energy from the Boulder I and Boulder II solar plants which between them generate over 150 Megawatts of electricity at a wholesale cost of 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

In addition to pulling its energy from the Sun Vegas also has the option of temporarily drawing down energy from the nearby hydroelectric plant, Hoover Dam – just in case it can’t generate enough from tree shaped solar panels in the City Hall plaza, solar shade canopies at city parks or the thousands of solar panels that are mounted on many of the roofs around the city – and, after all, even though the city bakes in the Nevada sun almost all year round who knows when an inconsiderate cloud might blot out the sun…

The city began building its sustainable energy programs in 2006, implementing energy saving measures across the city and putting solar arrays on and around city facilities where it made sense. Since then, the city has reduced its energy consumption by more than 30 percent, according to Tom Perrigo, the city’s planning director and chief sustainability officer and they’re now saving over $5 million a year on their energy bills as a result.

 

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Pat Egan, NVEnergy senior vice president, said his company continues to decrease its reliance on coal. Coal currently accounts for 8 percent of NVEnergy’s generating resources, compared with 74 percent natural gas and 18 percent renewable resources.

Goodman called Monday’s announcement “huge” and said it solidifies the city’s cutting edge approach to sustainability.

“When we say something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” she said.

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