Commercial, Distributed Generation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 10, 2016

Las Vegas casinos doubling down on renewables, energy efficiency

MGM Resorts, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands are looking to add more renewable energy at their facilities. MGM already boasts the “largest convention center solar array in the world,” and the expanded Mandalay Bay Convention Center is incorporating an additional rooftop solar photovoltaic array spanning 8 acres.

Upon completion in early 2016, the added portion of the array will generate approximately 1.9 MW with an approximate annual production of 3.4 million kilowatt hours, the company said in a release. In total, the fully completed array will cover more than 28 acres.

These moves come with controversy, however, because Nevada utility NV Energy recently cut the rate at which it pays solar customers for power they sell back to the grid – a practice known as net metering.

A recent Guardian newspaper article sums up the situation: “Together, the casinos’ [mentioned above] 15 properties account for 7% of NV Energy’s electricity sales, and if that income were lost, the utility says, its remaining customers would have to endure significant rate hikes. As a result, the public utility commission (PUC) of Nevada is demanding resorts pay tens of millions of dollars to leave NV Energy’s services, a December 2015 decision which one casino has appealed.”

When you factor in energy efficiency measures being taken by some casino operators, NV Energy is losing even more revenue. MGM Corporation is also reportedly replacing 1.3 million light bulbs at its properties with LEDs.

Nevada has already become ground zero in the net-metering controversy and this legal battle with the casinos could be a proving ground for how similar issues are settled in other parts of the country. 

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