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The City of Las Vegas Goes 100 Percent Renewable

The City of Las Vegas made an announcement last month that kinda got lost in the hubbub of politics and holidays.

Its energy sources are now 100 percent renewable.

That means all city buildings, street lights, traffic signals, lights for public parks. Everything the City of Las Vegas owns is now powered 100 percent by renewable energy.

The goal for being 100 percent sustainable was set for 2025. Las Vegas came in nine years early.

But the future isn't quite here yet. All of the CITY OWNED buildings are powered by renewable energy. But the hundreds of thousands of home, and various privately owned businesses are not.

City Manager Betsy Fretwell says that's a goal.

It should also be noted that the City's attainment of sustainability goals does not affect the Strip. The City of Las Vegas ends at Sahara to the south. The casinos are in unincorporated Clark County.

And even if they were in the city, they are private businesses.

Still, says Fretwell, "some of the partnerships that we have worked on while we have been implementing this plan, are folks that are on the Strip."

As city workers have been figuring out how to become sustainable, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment were also moving in the same direction, Fretwell said. So, they worked together on issues like leadership development programs, and worker training.


Part of the reason the city was able to reach their renewable goal so early was because they have worked since 2008 on having less power to replace.

Eight years ago, Las Vegas was consuming 150 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Today, the city is consuming less than 100 million kilowatt hours. And Tom Perrigo, planning director and chief sustainability officer, said there is more savings his workers are finding as they are now thinking in a conservation paradigm.

Green Energy Under Trump

Perrigo is also optimistic about the future of green energy, even if the incoming presidential administration seems to be hostile to it.

"The train has left the station," Perrigo said. "Some of the cheapest power you can get is from solar energy." Therefore, subsidies are no longer really needed.

"As long as the regulations don't pick winners and losers, in that market place, I think clean renewable energy can compete just fine."

Betsy Fretwell, city manager, City of Las Vegas; Tom Perrigo, planning director and chief sustainability officer, City of Las Vegas

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)