- The city of Las Vegas has struck a deal with NV Energy that puts it on track to use 100% renewable energy, assuming the solar arrangement is approved by state regulators and the city council, Platts reports.
- The partnership would dedicate a portion of the output of a local solar facility currently under to city operations. The 100 MW (AC) Boulder Solar power plant, being constructed near Boulder City, Nevada, would supply the power.
- At the same time, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission has issued proposed orders to allow three casinos to leave NV Energy's service, though the gaming establishments will pay more than $125 million in fees. Some of the largest customers of the utility, casinos, have argued power rates are too high and want to purchase power on the open market.
The utility scene in Las Vegas is in for quite a shakeup. While the city is on course to get all of its energy from renewable sources, some of the largest consumers in the region are opting out of the local utility's service and will instead try their luck in open markets.
Vegas leaders announced last week that it had inked a new partnership with NV Energy that would power every city-owned streetlight, city park, community center, fire station, service yard and public building with renewable energy. Coupled with power the city receives from NV Energy that already satisfies the state’s renewable portfolio standard, the new deal will allow the city of Las Vegas’ retail load to be served 100% by renewable energy.
“This partnership is going to be a sustainability game changer for our city,” Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman said in a statement. “One thing people are surprised by is how environmentally conscious Las Vegas is when all they know appears to be less than sustainable. However, we are proud to join other community and business leaders who are all leaders in conservation."
Las Vegas joins a growing number of municipalities choosing to use all renewable energy, but the city's size makes it unique. "If the approvals happen we will become the first city of our size in the nation to achieve 100% renewable energy for city operations," Goodman said. Already this year, Aspen, Colo., Georgetown, Texas, and Rochester, Minn., have all announced they would be moving to 100% green power.
But at the same time, the city's biggest power users are planning to opt out of NV Energy's service, upset at the utility's rising profits while rates have remained steady. Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts have all received approval from the PUC to leave the utility's service, but they will pay a combined $126.6 million in fees to avoid having higher costs passed on to other customers.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has also indicated it will seek other electric supplies, according to Casino News Daily. MGM makes up almost 5% of the utility's annual sales.
Proposed orders issued by the PUC would allow their exist, but with fees: $15.7 million from Wynn; $23.9 million from Sands and almost $87 million from MGM. Those fees would be on the low end of what PUC staff previously recommended: a max of $28 million for Wynn; $24 million for Sands; and $128 million for MGM.