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MGM Resorts, NRG announce completion of massive rooftop array in Las Vegas

6.2MW solar system atop the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center ranks among the largest rooftop PV installations in the world.

The solar PV installation, which comprises roughly 20,000 solar panels, has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes. At peak production, the sprawling 20-acre rooftop array is expected to meet nearly 20 per cent of the Mandalay Bay’s power needs.

What’s more, power generated from the solar array is expected to lower demand on the southern Nevada electricity grid at the hottest time of the day and reduce energy costs for the entire Las Vegas system. Mandalay Bay will buy the energy created by the array through a power purchase agreement.

According to MGM Resorts International, the massive solar rooftop installation is the first of its kind on the Strip.

“This project has been a passion project of mine,” said Chris Brophy, vice president of corporate sustainability, MGM Resorts International, during a press conference at Delano on Oct. 30. “We have been working in this space for a long time, and looking at renewable energy specifically since about 2005. We worked that long to try to make something like this happen.”

On behalf of MGM, Brophy thanked NRG for its expertise, commitment and council on the complex project. “This is really a story about leadership and dedication — and about finding the right partners,” he stated. “It took us a long time to find a company like NRG in order to overcome some of the difficult obstacles we faced.”

John Chillemi, NRG senior vice president and regional president, West, welcomed the partnership with MGM.

“NRG is proud of the fact that a company like MGM thought about choosing us as a partner,” he said. “It takes like-minded companies such as MGM and NRG to wage the fight against climate change and to work toward a more sustainable future. We couldn’t be happier.”

But the project goes beyond contractual agreements. According to Chillemi, the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center solar installation is also a classic case study about how solar can be used in a great way.

“This is a significant amount of renewable energy, but it is also cleaning the air,” he explained. By his estimate, the energy generated by this solar installation is equivalent to removing around 6,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air — or the equivalent of taking roughly 1,300 automobiles off the road.

“If we had our way, every square foot of roof space in Las Vegas — and other regions with a lot of sun — would have solar panels on it,” Chillemi said. “This could be the most underutilized asset out there today.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was also in attendance at the press conference, took the opportunity recognize both MGM and innovative solar power companies such as NRG in the drive to further develop solar energy in the region.

“MGM is the largest employer in the state of Nevada,” he said, commending the company on its environmental and corporate sustainability efforts.1

At the same time, Mr. Reid acknowledged the positive economic impact of renewable energy across the state, noting that clean energy projects have created “thousands and thousands” of local jobs.     

More solar on the horizon

MGM Resorts International plans to add another 400,000 square feet to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, bringing the total to 2.1 million square feet. (That would make it the fifth-largest convention center in the country.) To that end, MGM Resorts and NRG have announced plans to build an additional 2MW PV array atop an expansion of the convention center. Phase II, which is currently under way, is expected to be completed in 2015.

“I am hopeful that this is just the start of a lot more to come,” MGM’s Brophy said.

Additional MGM Resort International properties include: Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, MGM Grand, Delano, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, Circus Circus, Silver Legacy (Reno, Nevada), Beau Rivage (Biloxi, Miss.), MGM Grand (Detroit, Mich.), Grand Victoria (Elgin, Ill.), and MGM Macau (China), among others.


1. MGM International built the world’s largest LEED-certified new construction facility in the world: City Center in Las Vegas. Moreover, the corporation reduced its annual energy consumption by more than one million kWh a year for the past five years. The company — through its various properties — also conserved about 2.5 billion gallons of water over the past five years.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity