Why Strip Solar Is Smart Business

Green energy lets guests feel like they're part of the solution

MGM Resorts International recently announced that Mandalay Bay was going solar, with plans to cover the 20 acres of rooftop above the resort’s convention center with 20,000 photovoltaic panels. This development is the latest, and certainly not the last, attempt by the hospitality company to position itself as a green giant.

At peak performance, the panels will produce about one-fifth of Mandalay Bay’s overall electricity needs. That’s a great deal of electricity—6.2 megawatts. But it doesn’t seem so much compared with the 400,000 megawatts Las Vegas uses each day.

The old saw about Las Vegas as a city of proud excess worked well as a marketing pitch when most people thought we had unlimited resources, but it’s a tougher sell these days in some corners of the convention trade. Increasingly, groups that are bringing their business to Las Vegas want to feel that they’re part of the environmental solution, not the problem.

That’s why convention sales managers have learned to tout their property’s green credentials when trying to get meeting planners to sign the contract. In an age where annual statements reserve a few pages for Corporate Social Responsibility, being able to cite a LEED designation or energy-smart solutions like Mandalay’s solar project go far as evidence of environmental sensitivity.

So a company like MGM Resorts that develops renewable energy wins a twofold bounty: lower utility bills, plus the potential to attract ecology- (or image-) conscious groups. So don’t be surprised if other Strip casinos start following Mandalay Bay’s path to the sun.