Jim Murren Considering Taking MGM Off the Grid in Nevada

Posted on: August 28, 2015, 02:07h. 

Last updated on: August 30, 2015, 08:40h.

Jim Murren MGM Resorts power
Jim Murren wants to take MGM Resorts off of the Nevada public power utility grid, but is balking at fees the company would owe it if sought other power sources. (Image: CBS Las Vegas)

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren wants to put his company’s Las Vegas operations on a greener path, using clearner, renewable energy sources to power its casinos and resorts.

But he doesn’t want to have to pay NV Energy for the privilege of doing it.

Murren told KSNV News 3 in Las Vegas that while he would like MGM to stick with NV Energy, the public utility that services Nevada, he is looking at his options because he would like to find a way to both lower the company’s power bills and its carbon footprint at the same time.

If MGM wanted to go off the grid and buy electricity on the open market instead, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission says the company would have to pay them nearly $90 million for the right to do so.

Several Casino Companies Looking at Power Alternatives

Those fees came to light as three major casino corporations, including MGM, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Corp. all filed applications with the utilities commission in an effort to leave.

Between the three companies, they would owe nearly $131 million in fees if they were to exit the public utility.

The fees are designed to help offset the losses that NV Energy would face if those companies were to leave their power network, as well as recoup investments made by the company to provide electricity for those companies.

In total, the three gaming firms represent nearly 5 percent of NV Energy’s sales.

According to Murren, however, the fees feel like a penalty for wanting his company to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Why don’t you change the way you’re conducting yourselves, deliver power more efficiently and in a better way from an environmental perspective and not put it on the backs of the consumers,” Murren told KSNV. “But don’t penalize me because I want clean energy.”

Clean Energy Summit Promotes Solar Power for Consumers

The comments came a day after the National Clean Energy Summit organized by Harry Reid (D-Nevada), held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

President Barack Obama gave the keynote address on Monday, pointing out that in many cases, it was now often cheaper for customers to use solar power than to rely on more traditional power sources.

“[Customers] can tell [their] utility company that they want renewable energy and have solar on the roof by the weekend,” Obama said, speaking of programs offered by local utilities in Oklahoma and Texas. “It’s an American energy revolution. Good utilities recognize this and are adapting business models to seize the opportunities of this emerging energy reality.” 

Murren spokes about several other topics during his discussion with KSNV, including how the drop in revenues from Macau has had an impact on MGM’s bottom line, and the fact that in Las Vegas, most revenues now come from non-gaming sources.

Murren also spoke to the coming retirement of Senator Reid.

While Murren is a Republican, he considers Reid a friend, says that Nevada will be losing a strong advocate when Reid retires.

“With all due respect to our other federal delegates, if you added them all up and multiplied it by ten, they don’t have the power and influence in Washington that Senator Reed has right now,” he said. “Like so many things in life: you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.”