Solar Panels to Power ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ Sign
The iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign will go green this winter after the Clark County Commission approved plans to install solar trees to power the sign’s legendary neon and incandescent lights.
“We’re planting solar trees at one of the most photographed spots on earth,” said County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak. “It’s difficult to make a bigger statement about our commitment to sustainability than at the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign.” The sign falls on the border of Sisolak’s district and that of Commissioner Mary Beth Scow.
“Visitors increasingly want assurances that the city they’re visiting respects the environment,” said Commissioner Scow. “Up and down the Las Vegas Strip, our resorts are becoming increasingly green. This public-private partnership creates the next logical step at what is arguably the world’s most famous sign.”
“The Las Vegas Valley is one of the sunniest spots on the planet,” said Commissioner and Green Chips Board Member Chris Giunchigliani. “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.”
Clean Energy Project (CEP), a Las Vegas-based nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a clean energy economy, in partnership with Green Chips, a public/private partnership that advances environmental sustainability initiatives, has been leading the effort to convert the power source for the legendary sign.
“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 CEP Executive Director Lydia Ball. “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.”
The project is fully funded thanks to generous donations from the Consumer Electronics Association and NV Energy and a grant from the Las Vegas Centennial History Grant Program.
“We have seen a tremendous rally around this idea,” said Green Chips Executive Director Rick Van Diepen. “To have the Consumer Electronics Association pledge $50,000 to this change and then to have NV Energy and the Las Vegas Centennial History Grant Program dive in as well is a testament to the power behind the clean energy and sustainability movement that is growing in Las Vegas.”
When the switch is flipped on the solar project, the sign’s neon, backlighting and 89-bulb border will be powered solely by the energy harnessed by three solar trees that will be installed along the central median where the sign stands. The solar trees will be placed so as not to interfere with the iconic view that has served as The Strip’s welcome mat for more than 50 years.
The project also includes a didactic plaque describing how the project works and directing those interested in learning more about renewable energy and sustainability in Southern Nevada to the Clark County, Green Chips and CEP websites. Ground breaking for the project will occur this fall with completion expected sometime after the new year begins.
The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, designed by Betty Willis, has stood at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard in unincorporated Clark County since 1959. In 2009, coinciding with the County’s centennial, the sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 12th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 43 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.
Clean Energy Project, Inc. (CEP) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to powering the clean energy economy through education and engagement with policy leaders, community leaders and citizens on the economic benefits of fully developing a clean energy economy. CEP builds on existing successful policies and advocates for continued development of the west's promising clean energy industry. For more information, please visit CleanEnergyProjectNV.org.