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Off-site solar array begins powering Wynn casinos on Las Vegas Strip

Updated June 4, 2018 - 9:02 pm

Wynn Resorts began drawing power Saturday from its new dedicated solar array outside Fallon, about 375 miles away from the Strip.

The 160-acre, 20-megawatt Wynn Solar Facility went online just in time for triple-digit temperatures, spiking energy prices and the announcement of a new position within the resort company: chief sustainability officer.

Erik Hansen is the first person to wear that title at Wynn, and he is also the one who oversaw the company’s development of its first dedicated, off-site solar array.

The project supplied well over 80 percent of the daytime power demand at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore during its first weekend of operation, Hansen said.

“It’s the perfect week” for the array to come online, he said. “Typically this is when prices start to spike in the energy market.”

As for his new job title, Hansen said sustainability has been a part of Wynn Resorts’ corporate mission for years, but now the company is putting that work under one department as it branches out into more complex, cutting-edge initiatives.

“It’s not the ‘easy button’ ideas anymore,” he said.

Though Hansen is the first of his kind at Wynn, he isn’t the only chief sustainability officer on the Strip. MGM Resorts created the same position a decade ago, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. has both a vice president of global sustainability and a director of sustainability for The Venetian and Palazzo.

These executives oversee an environmental arms race on the Strip, where resorts are investing in green technology to lower costs, cut water and power use, reduce food waste, increase recycling and shrink their overall carbon footprints.

In April, MGM Resorts announced plans to partner with Chicago-based renewable developer Invenergy on a new 100-megawatt solar array about 25 miles northeast of Las Vegas, which it said will be capable of supplying up to 90 percent of daytime demand at the company’s 13 Las Vegas casinos by 2020.

MGM already operates one of the nation’s largest rooftop solar fields atop the convention center at Mandalay Bay.

Wynn recently installed 103,000 square feet of solar panels on the Wynn Las Vegas rooftop to produce almost 1 megawatt of electricity exclusively for use “behind the meter” on the property.

Wynn’s new off-site solar array, which is owned and operated by Enel Green Power North America Inc., will power Paradise Park, the billion-dollar development soon to start construction on the site of the former Desert Inn Golf Club, just east of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.

Initially, the project was expected to include a 1,500-room hotel and convention center built alongside a 38-acre lagoon, but new Wynn CEO Matt Maddox announced plans to scale back the development during a call with investors in late April.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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