Las Vegas welcome sign goes green

9 Jan 2014

The iconic Las Vegas sign that has welcomed gamblers for decades will now be entirely powered by solar energy as the city moves towards a greener future.

Fewer road signs are as iconic as the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada’ entrance sign, but now it is going to gain another accolade as it moves to take advantage of the 64MW solar-power plant nearby, Nevada Solar One.

The switch to solar energy has been planned for more than a year now. The initiative has received technological backing from a number of clean-energy non-profit organisations, and funding from the Consumer Electronics Association, electric utility NV Energy, the Las Vegas Centennial Commission, and Bombard Renewable Energy.

Betty Willis designed the sign in 1959 and it has become a tourist attraction in itself. In 2012, due to increased tourist traffic, the city’s administration expanded the welcome area for tourists, which takes in dozens of tour buses each day. Tourists can also purchase one of the light bulbs, with funds going to local charities.

In the city of neon, Las Vegas uses about 20,000MW of power a day and has been moving towards a more sustainable future as another solar-power plant, the Crescent Dune, is currently under construction and will have an output of 110MW.

Las Vegas welcome sign image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic