As you would imagine, it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to power resorts in Las Vegas. With thousands of hotel rooms, neon signage, air conditioning, and slot machines humming 24-hours/day, casinos are tremendous consumers of electricity.
I was curious to dig into whether Las Vegas casinos are embracing green energy to save money and enhance the bottom line.
Why wouldn’t they? The desert southwest and Las Vegas, in particular, receive plenty of sun? Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to put that energy to use? It’s a bit more complicated than you would think.
Many folks are actually under the impression that Las Vegas is 100%, or nearly 100% powered by renewable resources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power from the Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, it’s not even close to being true.
According to 2022 data from the US Energy Information Administration, 56% of Nevada’s power came from Natural Gas-fired plants and only 37% of generated electricity came from renewable sources including hydroelectric.
Those energy statistics reference the entire state of Nevada, however, according to the US Census Bureau 2.2 million people, or 73.5% of Nevada’s population, estimated at 3.2 million, live in Clark County – The majority of Nevadans are clustered around Las Vegas.
Nevada resorts are required to buy energy from NV Energy and surprisingly have to pay for the privilege of leaving the utility to produce their own electricity or buy it on the open market.
The reason large organizations like casinos have to pay to leave NV Energy is to cover the cost of infrastructure that was built, in part, to support their energy needs. Casino operators are willing to pony up because they believe buying less expensive energy on the open market will more than make up for the fee.
Some major resort players that have paid to leave NV Energy include:
- MGM Resorts – $86.9 million
- Wynn Resorts – $15 million
- Caesars Entertainment – $47.5 million
More recently, casinos like Resorts World and tourist attractions like Allegiant Stadium and The Sphere have partnered with NV Energy to execute their renewable strategies vs. leaving the utility altogether.
Notable Solar Projects Powering Resorts
Resorts World announced in 2023 that the resort is powered entirely by renewable energy sources in partnership with NV Energy.
In June of 2021, MGM Resorts brought a 100 MW, 323,000 panel solar array online that will power 90% of their 13 resort’s daytime operations. To put that in perspective, the new solar array generates enough electricity to power 27,000 homes. MGM aims to run on 100% renewable energy sources in the United States by 2030.
Mandalay Bay, which is also part of the MGM Resorts family, has 26,000 panels that cover 11 acres of the resort’s roof which supplies 25% of the casino’s energy needs. The solar array at Mandalay Bay will save carbon emissions equal to removing 1,700 cars from the road.
Wynn Resorts has also embraced solar energy, opening a new 160-acre solar power facility in 2020 that generates up to 75% of the resort’s peak power needs. Additionally, Wynn has covered over 100,000 square feet of their resort rooftop with solar panels which generate enough electricity to power 5,056 homes.
Caesars Entertainment has committed to reducing emissions by 30% by 2025, and by 95% by 2050. While they don’t have a solar field of their own like Wynn and MGM, they purchase solar energy on the open market.
The City of Las Vegas has also taken a leadership role on the issue by sourcing 100% of power needed for municipal buildings from renewable sources. Sources for the city’s power include a solar farm outside of Boulder City, the Hoover Dam, and from solar panels installed over parking at 40 municipal buildings.
Allegiant Stadium has partnered with NV Energy to power 100% of their operations with renewables which is sourced from a 621k panel solar farm in the desert.
More and more Vegas resorts are opting to power their operations with renewables, either by leaving NV Energy and going it alone, or by partnering with the utility to develop the infrastructure needed, which is welcome news.
It’s good for the environment, our health, and the bottom line of energy-hungry casinos.
Related: Are Las Vegas resorts draining Lake Mead? The answer may surprise you.
Feature Image: ©agnormark/123RF
I’m a former software salesman turned Vegas aficionado. While the craps table is my preferred habitat, I pull myself away to explore new attractions, shows, restaurants, and outdoor activities around Las Vegas with the intent of sharing my experiences.
Ultimately, I just want to help folks plan a better trip and save a few bucks in the process.