Iconic 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' sign to project a solar glow

The Strip’s historic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign will glow with solar power this winter.

Clark County commissioners approved on Tuesday a plan that will install solar trees nearby, putting that alternative energy into the sign’s lights, which have brightened the Strip’s south edge since 1959.

The commissioners’ approval came after they voiced concerns in July that the solar panels would potentially ruin the view and photographs for millions of tourists who stop there each year.

As a result, Clean Energy Project and Green Chips, two organizations working on the project, came up with a plan that keeps the solar panels south of the sign along the median where it is located.

Ground will break for the project this fall, with the finish date expected around Jan. 1, 2014.

“We are excited, not just about the project itself, which will produce all the power the sign needs to operate, but about what this symbolizes in Southern Nevada,” said Lydia Ball, executive director of Clean Energy Project, in a statement. “By lighting up this sign every night with the power of the solar energy, we are providing a great example of just what solar can do and why it’s worth support.”

Taxpayers won’t be charged for the solar power project. Donations from the Consumer Electronics Association, NV Energy and the Las Vegas Centennial History Grant Program are covering the costs.

“The Las Vegas Valley is one of the sunniest spots on the planet,” said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, also a Green Chips board member, in a statement. “We are delighted to harness that sunshine and use it to power such an iconic symbol of our community. The project will forever tie our storied past with the possibility of an exciting future powered by solar energy.”

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.