Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | 10:21 p.m.
Earth Hour promo
Scores of casino-hotels and other businesses and organizations on and off the Las Vegas Strip have committed to show their support for the environment by participating in "Earth Hour'' on Saturday night, when they'll dim or turn off their signs and decorative lighting for an hour to raise awareness about climate change.
The event, organized worldwide by the World Wildlife Fund, lasts for one hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. Some 2,500 cities globally are participating.
Among the major casino operators on and near the Las Vegas Strip, Harrah's Entertainment Inc. has been aggressive in promoting Earth Hour and is a local sponsor of the event.
Organizers said Las Vegas, which did not participate in the two previous Earth Hour events, was brought on board this year largely through the efforts of Harrah's. And not only is Las Vegas participating, it's participating in such a big way that it is among 10 Earth Hour "flagship cities,'' along with Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Local Earth Hour promoters said the World Wildlife Fund contacted Harrah's, which became the first hotel-casino company to join the local effort and then arranged meetings with city officials and donated in other ways such as arranging for Flamingo Las Vegas headliners Donny and Marie Osmond to film a public service announcement for the event.
"We helped to open some doors,'' said Harrah's spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson.
"Harrah's got involved early on. One of the driving forces behind it is our commitment to environmental sustainability,'' she said. "This is a way to demonstrate to the world that Las Vegas and Harrah's are committed to raising awareness about climate change and doing something about it.''
In what Peterson described as a grassroots effort initiated by Harrah's employees around the country, and blessed by management, Harrah's has invested substantially in environmental stewardship for years with its CodeGreen initiative.
Harrah's is an EPA Environmental Quality Award winner and EPA Climate Leader and touts CodeGreen on its Internet home page. It says it has spent $60 million on conservation programs during the past five years.
For instance, Harrah's has installed millions of energy-efficient light bulbs, upgraded its Las Vegas laundry to save 75 million gallons of water annually, uses outside air to cool its water in the winter, uses waste heat from boilers for heating purposes, recycles grease from its kitchens to use as vehicle fuel and separates recyclables from the trash collected in its resorts.
"We invite you to join us in taking a stand against climate change and turn off your lights on Saturday,'' Harrah's said in a statement.
On and near the Strip, Harrah's properties like Caesars Palace, the Flamingo and the Rio will be joined by numerous other resorts in marking Earth Hour.
Besides turning off its marquees at properties ranging from Mandalay Bay to Circus Circus, MGM Mirage plans to shut off tower-wash lighting at its properties. The Volcano at the Mirage, the
Bellagio Fountains and the Luxor Beam -- which shoots light toward space -- will also be dark for the observance.
The Firm public relations agency, hired by the World Wildlife Fund to organize and promote the event locally, said the other Strip-area properties participating include the Hard Rock, the Palms, Four Seasons, Hooters, Tropicana, Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, the Venetian, the Palazzo, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, the Riviera, the Sahara, the Stratosphere and the Las Vegas Hilton.
Locals' properties participating include the Eastside Cannery, two Arizona Charlie's, J.W. Marriott, the Orleans, Gold Coast, Sam's Town and Suncoast. Numerous downtown properties such as Main Street Station, the Plaza, Vegas Club and Golden Nugget also have signed up.
Locals' gaming leader Station Casinos is not participating because of a conflicting companywide promotion that evening. Spokeswoman Lori Nelson said the company remains committed to the environment and has in place conservation efforts focusing on reducing energy and water usage as well as recycling glass, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and kitchen grease.
Casino executives said only decorative lighting is involved in the event and that lighting important for safety and security will remain on.
Nongaming participants include VEGAS.com, a travel company that is a sister company to the Las Vegas Sun. During earth hour, the graphic of the skyline at the top of the VEGAS.com home page will show a dimmed-down Strip, with links to information about Earth Hour.
Other participants include local governments and officials, who will turn off the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign; Clear Channel Outdoor, Cox Communications, the Fashion Show mall, the Miracle Mile Shops and the Summerlin planned community.
Officials at NV Energy, in the meantime, said Wednesday the local power grid should easily accommodate the potential sudden decline in power demand during Earth Hour, followed by a surge of demand when the lights are turned back on.
"We're not anticipating it will cause a problem with grid stability,'' said Greg Kern, director of customer renewable generation and energy efficiency.
Kern said exterior lighting at casinos repesents a tiny percentage of total demand and that because of the mild weather, the NV Energy electric generation and transmission system is not operating near its capacity. But like other events potentially affecting the electric grid, like Y2K at the beginning of 2000, NV Energy technicians will be paying special attention to the grid Saturday night.
Earth Hour does bring attention to energy conservation issues and Kern said NV Energy offers numerous services to help residential and business customers reduce energy consumption. Information on those programs is available at the Web site nvenergy.com
Also, The Firm compiled this list of Earth Hour happenings:
--What's called the "World’s Biggest Big Screen,'' the Viva Vision canopy at the downtown Fremont Street Experience, will feature a three-minute Earth Hour video presentation and a countdown before going dark along with nearby hotel and casino marquees. Some 5,000 glow necklaces will be given out to guests.
--The Hard Rock plans multiple promotions, including a candlelight dinner at AGO, a "Twilight Poker Tournament" at 7 p.m. and the serving of "Ecotinis" in restaurants and bars.
--The Springs Preserve is holding a viewing party at the Cafe by Wolfgang Puck, which offers a nice view of the Las Vegas Strip.
--UNLV and the Ultimate Frisbee Team will oversee glow in the dark Frisbee games.
--The Las Vegas Native Youth dancers will perform traditional dances during Earth Hour.
--The Las Vegas Hilton will offer a "Greentini" at its bars and lounges.
--Krave Nightclub will dim the lights and hand out flashlights for its "Flashlight Underwear Party'' in which guests can can check their clothes at the door while conserving energy.
--Whole Foods Market at The District in Henderson is offering a great view of the Strip going dark from its parking lot from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. along with servings of tapas.
--Whole Foods Market at Town Square on Las Vegas Boulevard is offering wine samples under the stars while a speaker from the Las Vegas Natural History Museum will enlighten guests about the constellations overhead.
--At Mandalay Place, guests at rm seafood will hear from Chef Rick Moonen about sustainable seafood practices.
--The New Green Team is offering cocktails, cookies and candlelight in Boulder City's Bicentennial Park. Participants are invited to bring drinks and desert to share with their neighbors.
--New York-New York Hotel & Casino’s The Roller Coaster will run "Dark Coaster" rides with all riders receiving a neon necklace, while acoustic band "Alternative Energy'' plays on the candle-lit Brooklyn Bridge. Nine Fine Irishmen restaurant at the property will promote sustainable farming with a special "Earth Hour Menu."
--Pie Town Pizza is offering free delivery in its "Smart Car'' for orders placed during Earth Hour; along with candlelight dining on location.
For more information on Earth Hour in Las Vegas, visit www.earthhourlv.org