Las Vegas Sun

August 23, 2014

Currently: 86° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Clark County Commission:

Plan envisions solar power fueling iconic Las Vegas sign

Image

Steve Marcus

A view of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, Sept. 10, 2011.

Updated Saturday, June 29, 2013 | 9:10 p.m.

Map of Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Las Vegas

The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign could soon be powered by the sun if the efforts of a local group of environmental advocates are successful.

Clark County commissioners will hear details of a plan Tuesday to install solar panels at the site on Las Vegas Boulevard that has been a destination for tourists since the Betty Willis-designed sign was erected in 1959.

The panels, described in county documents as three “solar trees,” would provide enough energy to power the sign’s neon accents and the 89 light bulbs that rim its perimeter.

“It’s an icon of Southern Nevada and Las Vegas,” said Lydia Ball, executive director of the Clean Energy Project, one of the nonprofit groups behind the effort. “Powering (the sign) through solar, we feel, will show what our economy and renewable energy can do.”

Also involved in the effort are the environmental nonprofit Green Chips and Bombard Electric, the company that built solar panel installations at Las Vegas City Hall and the Clark County Government Center.

The project would be mostly paid for using a $50,000 donation from the Consumer Electronics Association, the organizer behind the annual Consumer Electronics Show, although fundraising is ongoing to cover additional costs, Ball said.

Final approval for the project would have to come at a future meeting.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani is an enthusiastic supporter of the project and said it would help show visitors the commitment the region has to sustainability.

“It will be so cool,” said Giunchigliani, who is also a board member for Green Chips. “This will save money. It will show people from around the world about photovoltaics. It’s a win-win.”

The timeline of the project is in flux because of other improvements the county is making to the area surrounding the sign, including installing a crosswalk and expanding the parking lot.

Although there still are several challenges to overcome before the panels are installed, Ball said the completed project would add a glimpse of the future to one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

“The reason why I love the idea so much is it really tells the story about the existing economic driver, which is tourism and gaming, while the solar panels will represent a new industry that’s growing,” Ball said.

CORRECTION: The story has been changed to correct the attribution in the final quote to Lydia Ball. | (July 2, 2013)

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 7 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Good, let it. That's about all solar power is good for powering---the Las Vegas Sign, an outhouse, a bus stop shelter.

    It cannot power a grid. You need real power to do that. But---let it power a sign here and there.

    Lefties are delusional about what they think is the power of solar. But---they cannot see the world as it is.

  2. BTW, Chris G is an absolute loon, nut job, leftist. She is dangerous. But, let her company put solar panels around the LV Sign. Let her drive her car on solar and take her next flight on a solar plane. Let's see how far she gets.

    Nut job leftists are dangerous.

  3. The need to have solar panels attached to an array of large, heavy lead-acid batteries dims the concept.

  4. What the story does not state is what the monthly electrical cost for the sign is now versus the total cost of solar installation plus maintenance. How long will it take for a return on investment?

    Also, is there a guarantee that the sign will be just as bright as it is now 365 days a year?

    Finally, how much money does Bombard Electric contribute to local politicians?

  5. Wells Fargo disagrees with Bobby Coburn about what Solar can and is powering:
    http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2013/0...

    "Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) and its subsidiaries are investing more than $100 million of tax equity financing to fund solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the U.S. developed by SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE). The investments will happen in 2013 and 2014.
    Wells Fargo has provided more than $950 million of tax equity and construction financing for more than 200 solar projects developed by SunEdison located in 13 U.S. states and in Puerto Rico."

  6. And then there is this report from within the power industry:
    http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2013/0...

    "Power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from natural gas and nuclear by 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR).
    The report says renewable power is expected to increase by 40 percent in the next five years and is expected to make up almost 25 percent of the global power mix by 2018. The share of non-hydro sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal will double to 8 percent by 2018, up from 4 percent in 2011 and 2 percent in 2006.
    Countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including China, are expected to account for two-thirds of the increase in renewables worldwide.
    "As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. "This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries."
    Renewables are becoming more cost-competitive and investment and deployment are accelerating in emerging markets, helping to drive the positive outlook for renewables. Non-OECD countries are expected to account for two-thirds of the increase in renewables worldwide."

  7. Since Clark county or the City of Las Vegas do not pay the power bill for the sign I don't have a problem with a private company, using their money puts solar on this sign.

    Since the taxpayers are not paying the costs to make it shine the return to cost does not effect us.

    The sign is not owned by the county but it is on county property so they are in control.