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Nev. regulators approve alternative power supply for Las Vegas Sphere


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Nev. regulators approve alternative power supply for Las Vegas Sphere

The Las Vegas Sphere, a high-tech entertainment complex scheduled to open in 2021, will be powered by an alternative provider of electricity, Nevada regulators agreed April 10.

A 360-foot high dome with 157,000 speakers, vibrating floors and a 3.7-acre ultra-high-resolution video screen arching over 18,000 spectators will demand a lot of electricity, but a yet-to-be chosen nonutility supplier will provide it, the regulators said.

MSG Networks Inc. affiliate MSG Las Vegas LLC promises interactive sound, light, visual and vibration extravaganzas that will require enough juice to meet a peak load of more than 20 MW and annual consumption of about 95,779 MWh.

Public Utilities Commissioner Ann Pongracz described the forthcoming attraction as a "one-of-a-kind venue," and the PUC's order approving the energy supply arrangement said, "MSG is developing the Las Vegas Sphere to provide concert-goers with an immersive audiovisual experience."

Under the PUC order, NV Energy Inc. subsidiary Nevada Power Co. will be relegated primarily to transmitting power over its wires from a third-party supplier of electricity to the utility's system.

MSG becomes the latest large customer that is opting out of Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary NV Energy's electricity services with the aim of obtaining cheaper and perhaps cleaner power elsewhere.

The Las Vegas Sphere, or MSG Sphere as it is alternatively called, is under construction on Sands Avenue and the entertainment company said it has no intention of taking service directly from generation assets owned or contracted to NV Energy. As it is not an existing customer of the utility, MSG Las Vegas (an affiliate of the company that owns Madison Square Garden) will not have to pay the millions of dollars in exit fees that other large existing customers have had to pay to depart NV Energy's service.

However, the PUC's approval if MSG's new energy service application was contingent upon MSG paying an economic development rider along with other charges, such as taxes and licensing fees. The commission also held in reserve a ruling on whether the company will be subject to costs associated with NV Energy's coal plant retirements. That decision will be left for Nevada Power's next rate case, in 2020.