Sin City is setting the benchmark for sustainability in the U.S. with the announcement that its city government is now powered entirely by renewable energy.
When a large solar array, Boulder Solar 1, came online on December 12, Las Vegas was able to purchase the amount of carbon-free electricity it needed to power all of its buildings, facilities, and streetlights, according to Quartz. The city is now drawing power from a mix of hydroelectric turbines, including the Hoover Dam, as well as solar panels.
The total shift to renewable energy was a goal that city officials have been working toward for the better part of a decade. Their vision took a giant leap forward last year when Las Vegas struck a deal with NV Energy to provide power for the city’s main facilities using clean energy sources. In total, this transition to renewable energy is estimated to save the city around $5 million per year in energy spending, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman is correct in her assessment that this milestone pegs Las Vegas as a “world leader in sustainability,” but that’s not to say that the city is alone in its efforts to push for green initiatives in an era of global climate change.
The smaller city of Burlington, Vermont has been recognized for being the first in the country to shift its entire energy supply from fossil fuels to a combination of hydroelectric, wind, and solar power sources. In 2015, Aspen, Colorado was also able to source all of its energy needs through renewable means. Major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix have openly declared their commitment to push for green initiatives, noting that “the cost of prevention pales in comparison to [the] cost of inaction, in terms of dollars, property, and human life.”
Outside the U.S., countries have made equally notable strides toward green energy. For example, Britain has pledged to close its remaining eight coal-fired power plants to make way for renewables by 2025. Spain is already producing enough wind energy to power millions of homes every day and is optimistic about the possibility that wind power could eventually supply all of its energy needs. And proving that it is possible to power a whole country using only renewable energy sources, Costa Rica has managed to run for over two months on hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and solar power alone.