Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | 3:28 p.m.
MGM Resorts International announced today it intends to blanket the rooftop of one of its Strip properties with tens of thousands of solar panels.
The solar array atop Mandalay Bay Resort’s convention center would be the country’s second largest rooftop solar project if completed on schedule in early 2014, said representatives from MGM at a press conference at Mandalay Bay on Tuesday afternoon.
The 6.2 megawatt installation originates from a partnership with independent power producer NRG Energy.
A solar array of that size could provide power to about 1,000 homes. Executives at Mandalay Bay expect that it will provide up to 20 percent of the resort’s energy needs when the sun is shining its brightest.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Secretary Sally Jewell of the U.S. Department of Interior attended the press conference and praised the development.
“MGM really has set a standard,” Reid said. “This is wonderful what Mandalay Bay has done.”
Reid predicted that the resort’s announcement will be a precursor to a commercial trend for businesses and homeowners alike as rooftop solar generation becomes more affordable.
“What’s happening here at Mandalay Bay is certainly a wave that’s going to take place in the future,” he said.
Jewell also cheered the announcement, noting that it’s when business interests align with environmental concerns that renewable energy developments really move forward.
In contrast to scuttled renewable energy projects that haven’t been able to find customers to purchase the power, this development atop the resort’s convention center will have a guaranteed buyer: MGM Resorts International.
Jewell said the solar array’s installation atop the convention center should help the resort attract more convention-related business.
“This will attract more people to Las Vegas who want to have conventions here but want to know they’re with a green company,” she said.
Apple Inc. announced its own renewable energy project earlier this week in Yerington, but MGM’s announcement differs markedly from Apple’s.
The technology company partnered with NV Energy to build an 18-megawatt solar array that would provide power to Apple’s data center near Reno. But the facility would also put power into the grid for broader consumption.
Mandalay Bay’s project would be an exclusive partnership with NRG Energy.
“The new 20,000 panel solar rooftop array at Mandalay Bay will effectively enable the resort to lock in a substantial component of its energy costs at a very competitive rate,” said Tom Doyle, President and CEO of NRG Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, in a press release.