Las Vegas, Nevada, is now the largest US city government to derive 100% of its electricity from clean, renewable energy sources. Okay, you’re right. That doesn’t include all those glitzy casinos with their bazillions of lights. What it does include is the entire city government and infrastructure from city hall to streetlights. “We can brag that the city, this city of Las Vegas, is one of the few cities in the entire world that can boast using all of its power from a green source,” says Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.
Getting there hasn’t been easy. In fact, Las Vegas began working toward the goal of using nothing but clean energy more than 10 years ago. The final step happened when Boulder Solar 1 — a 100 megawatt solar array in the southeast corner of Nevada — went online earlier this month. The solar project was developed and built by Southern Power, which owns the facility. The electricity generated by Boulder Solar 1 is distributed by NV Energy. Las Vegas also gets electricity from several geothermal facilities and smaller solar panel installations throughout the city.
The city’s green power push has reduced its energy consumption by 30% and now saves it the equivalent of $5 million annually thanks to lower utility costs. City officials expect their experience will help other cities convert to clean renewable energy. San Francisco, San Jose, and Grand Rapids, Michigan are just some of the other US cities who have made a commitment to using 100% renewable energy by the year 2025.
Faced with an incoming administration that is aggressively hostile to the Paris climate accords and taking any steps to responsibly address the threat of climate change, cities around the nation are taking matters into their own hands to lower their carbon footprint and find new ways to utilize renewable energy.
48 cities sent a letter to Donald Trump recently asking him “lead us in expanding the renewable energy sources we need to achieve energy security, address climate change and spark a new manufacturing, energy and construction boom in America.” Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen. Perhaps if the cities asked for help building coal fired generating plants they would get a response from the man who has already placed himself in contention for first prize in the “Dumbest American President” competition.