Special to the Sun
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 | 3:50 p.m.
The nation’s largest rooftop solar array is now on the Las Vegas Strip.
After expanding a rooftop solar array atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, MGM Resorts International announced on Wednesday that its roughly 26,000 solar panels that span 28 acres set a record as the largest rooftop array in the United States.
At full production, the system will provide Mandalay Bay 25-percent of its energy.
MGM Resorts has been active in pushing for renewables and has emerged as a player in debates over Nevada’s energy policy. The company plans to pay about $87 million to leave NV Energy’s service in October and purchase power from an alternative provider.
MGM Resorts also contributed $10,000 to the Energy Choice Initiative, a ballot measure to end NV Energy’s exclusive control over the power supply.
MGM Resorts’ Mandalay Bay array, built by NRG Energy, was first unveiled in 2014 at an event that included U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. Through the second-phase expansion announced on Wednesday, MGM Resorts and NRG Energy added about 5,000 additional solar panels. The rooftop solar array stretches about 28 acres across the roof.
“The expansion of our rooftop solar installation at Mandalay Bay significantly advances our resort’s commitment to being a leading sustainable destination for conferences and conventions,” Chuck Bowling, Mandalay Bay’s president and chief operating officer said in a media release. “Utilizing energy produced from a renewable resource is a cornerstone of our comprehensive strategy of sustainable operations.”
According to the release, the 8.3-megawatt solar array will produce enough electricity to power 1,340 U.S. homes for one year and offset enough carbon to take more than 1,700 cars off the road. It is the largest solar array in the nation, according to Greentech Media, which researches the renewable energy market. MGM Resorts has said that the solar array, which began operating in the fall of 2014, has helped it stabilize electricity prices and reduce the amount of energy it pulls from the grid during times of high demand.
“Companies like MGM Resorts are driving an evolution in America’s energy mix as they seek cleaner sources of power that provide more certainty over energy costs,” Craig Cornelius, a senior vice president at NRG Energy said. “The solar array atop Mandalay Bay is stunning in its scope and functionality, and we’re thrilled to have MGM as a partner.”
In addition to MGM Resorts, several other casino operators on the Strip are exploring alternative energy sources. Las Vegas Sands is currently the main financial backer of the Energy Choice Initiative and Wynn Resorts plans to leave NV Energy’s service in the fall.