Following a decades-old drought in the southwest that threatens to up-end Las Vegas as we know it, some companies are taking the initiative of finding their own solutions to supporting the water-powered electrical grid that has sustained this city of lights for so many years. One such company is MGM, now a global leader in the battle against climate change, which, this week, launched a 100-megawatt solar array — the hospitality industry’s largest directly sourced renewable electricity project worldwide.
The solar field’s clean energy is targeted to produce up to 90 percent of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas daytime power needs, spanning 65 million square feet of buildings across 13 properties and more than 36,000 rooms on the Las Vegas Strip, including Bellagio, ARIA, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and The Mirage, among others.
The launch is the largest such sustainability endeavors amid Las Vegas resort entities and accelerates progress toward the company’s 2025 goal to reduce resort-managed emissions by 45 percent per square foot. MGM Resorts also hopes to effect two new goals it has developed in line with guidance provided by the Science-based Targets Initiative:
- Reduce absolute scope of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions 50 percent by 2030 (2019 base year)
- Source 100 percent renewable electricity in US and 80 percent globally by 2030
“With MGM Resorts’ significant scale and resources, we’re positioned to make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change, and we recognize our responsibility to build a more environmentally sustainable future,” said Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President, MGM Resorts. “Today we’re marking a significant step forward in our environmental sustainability initiatives in Las Vegas and our long-term vision to protect the planet and achieve an enduring, positive impact in our communities worldwide.”
Located in the desert north of Las Vegas, MGM Resorts’ Mega Solar Array features 323,000 panels arranged across 640 acres. The array’s renewable electricity production will be equivalent to the amount of power used by approximately 27,000 average U.S. homes annually. MGM Resorts is the sole user of the renewable electricity generated.
The Mega Solar Array project was developed in partnership with Invenergy – a leading privately held developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions – and structured through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In early 2021, Invenergy sold a 75 percent interest in the MGM Resorts Mega Solar Array to AEP Renewables, a subsidiary of American Electric Power that is one of the nation’s largest electric companies. Invenergy Services, a subsidiary of Invenergy, will provide Operations and Maintenance and Balance of Plant services under a long-term agreement.
The array’s development and launch follow other significant efforts by MGM Resorts to achieve its long-term climate goals.
* Investing over $60 million in energy efficiency in its U.S. properties from 2007 to 2019, including major upgrades to energy-efficient lighting and heating and air conditioning systems.
* Pursuing green building certification for all new property developments since 2009. CityCenter – where ARIA and Vdara resorts are located – earned six LEED Gold certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council when it opened in 2009 and remains the world’s largest privately funded LEED certified development. MGM Springfield is the first private-sector hospitality development to earn LEED Neighborhood Development certification at the site level.
* Developing the 8.3-megawatt array at Mandalay Bay in 2015, America’s largest contiguous rooftop solar array on a convention center.
* Transitioning to distribution-only service in its local utility grid in 2016, allowing MGM Resorts to take control of its energy future and accelerate use of renewable power.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak added, “MGM Resorts has long been Nevada’s largest private employer and has shown a clear commitment to using their size and scale to lead on important issues like climate change, renewable energy and sustainability. This solar array is among the most significant steps our industry has taken in terms of tackling climate change and promoting renewable energy. Powering so much of the Strip with clean, renewable energy sends a powerful message about Nevada’s role as a national leader in renewable energy and our commitment to fighting climate change.”