Monday, June 28, 2021 | 7:26 a.m.
When guests play a slot machine or turn on a light at an MGM Resorts International resort on the Las Vegas Strip, much of the electricity comes from a solar farm about 45 minutes north of Las Vegas.
Announced in 2018, the 100-megawatt, 640-acre solar array started churning out power a few weeks ago, company officials said. It has the capacity to supply up to 90% of the daytime energy needs for MGM’s eight Strip resorts, which include more than 36,000 guest rooms, officials said.
MGM officials and Nevada politicians, including Gov. Steve Sisolak and U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto, attended a ceremony Monday at the solar farm in the desert northeast of Las Vegas to unveil the project.
“As Nevada’s largest private employer and operator on the Strip, MGM Resorts is uniquely positioned to use our scale and resources to make a significant and positive difference. It’s an obligation and commitment to take incredibly seriously,” MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said. “It’s fair to say that much in Las Vegas Strip has now gone solar.”
Sisolak noted the imortance of green energ projects, such as the solar farm, in combating global warming.
“We need to do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are increasing the size of wildfires, putting our natural resources at risk and intensifying drought — just like the one hitting the West Coast right now,” Sisolak said.
“Solar energy’s success throughout our state has created thousands of Nevada jobs and led to cheaper power bills and the growth of a new industry that is diversifying our state’s economy," Rosen said. "In Nevada, thanks to companies like MGM Resorts, solar energy is both creating jobs and helping us lead the way toward a clean energy future.”
“This is part of what’s been an effort that’s lasted more than a decade where MGM has thought about its environmental footprint,” said Yalmaz Siddiqui, MGM’s vice president of corporate sustainability, said prior to Monday‘s ceremony.
“It’s all part of our effort to reduce our carbon footprint and advance renewable energy,” Siddiqui said. “This is the largest solar array in the world for a hospitality company.”
The facility, located near Love’s Travel Stop at Interstate 15 and U.S. 93, has 323,000 solar panels, each 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. All of the power produced there is used by MGM.
“This will account for a significant portion of the total electricity used by all MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas,” said Henry Shields, MGM executive director of analytics. “At the peak of the day, the sun will be producing enough energy to power most of our Las Vegas properties at that time.”
MGM hopes to have all of its energy needs in the U.S. sourced by renewable options by 2030.
In 2016, MGM left NV Energy, the public utility serving Nevada, to look to fill its energy needs elsewhere. Wynn Resorts did the same that year, and Caesars Entertainment followed in 2018.
Wynn has a solar farm outside of Fallon in Churchill County. MGM also has a rooftop solar array at Mandalay Bay.
The MGM solar farm north of Las Vegas was developed with the private company Invenergy, which later sold a 75% stake in the project to a firm controlled by American Electric Power, one of the county’s biggest electric producers.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.