Las Vegas just became the largest US city to run solely on renewable energy

Las Vegas just became the largest US city to run solely on renewable energy
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

The city of Las Vegas officially achieved a milestone last week, when Boulder Solar 1 — a solar power plant on the edge of Boulder City, Nevada — went live. According to the Huffington Post, the plant's acres of solar panels will provide 100% of the city's municipal power, excluding commercial and residential buildings. 

It's something Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is particularly proud of.

"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," Goodman said Monday at a press conference.

City officials had been working toward this goal since 2008, when they first began the transition to renewable energy. Since then, the city has saved some $5 million a year, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Las Vegas Mayor Carol Goodman
Source: 
Julie Jacobson/AP

Las Vegas serves as a model for at least a dozen cities across the United States hoping to achieve the same goal. An August report from the Sierra Club, a New York City-based grassroots environmental organization, presented case studies on 10 cities that have made "ambitious commitments to be powered by 100% renewable energy," including East Hampton, New York; Georgetown, Texas; and San Francisco. 

Meanwhile, Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; Columbia, Maryland; and Greensburg, Kansas, like Las Vegas, are already powering their cities solely on renewable resources. 

President-elect Donald Trump has shrugged off the threat of climate change, primarily because he finds it to be scientifically dubious. He also believes moving away from fossil fuels has cost too many Americans their jobs.

But a commitment to a more sustainable future can create jobs too: According to the 2015 National Solar Jobs Census, solar employment has been steadily increasing since 2013 and the solar industry has been creating jobs at 12 times the rate of overall employment growth in the U.S. economy. 

No matter what climate deniers say, it won't deter city officials from realizing greener, cleaner change in their cities.

"When we say something's going to happen, it's going to happen," Goodman said Monday.

Correction: Dec. 21, 2016
A previous version of this story included the Las Vegas Strip as being part of the city of Las Vegas. It is not.

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Marie Solis

Marie is a staff writer with a focus in feminist issues. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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