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Las Vegas welcome sign to go solar by New Year's

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POSTED September 4, 2013 10:18 p.m.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign will soon light up the night with help from the sun.

On Tuesday, Clark County commissioners approved a plan from nonprofit organization Green Chips to hook up the sign to fake trees equipped with solar panels. Groundbreaking is set for this fall, and the project should be complete by Jan. 1, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The Las Vegas Valley is one of the sunniest spots on the planet," said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, also a Green Chips board member, in a statement. "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."

Commissioners weren't always enthused about the remake, which initially called for three, 25-foot-tall fake trees painted blue and set just north of the sign.

"It just seems to me when people are going up to take their picture in front of the Las Vegas sign, I don't think they want solar trees in the line of view looking to the Strip. I just have a huge concern with that," commissioner Mary Beth Scow said when the board considered the proposal in July.

The revised plan places the trees south of the sign and out of the sightline for tourist-photographers.

Clark County won't have to pay for the solar apparatus, which is being funded by a private grant from the Virginia-based Consumer Electronics Association and donations from other organizations.

It will also feature an educational plaque explaining how renewable energy and the solar trees work.

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