Microsoft Signs 175MW Wind Power Deal

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

EDF Buys Illinois wind power plant, thanks to a 20-year contract with Microsoft

Microsoft has signed its biggest renewable energy agreement, committing to buy the output of a 175MW wind farm in Illinois.

The 20 year deal commits Microsoft to buying the output of the Pilot Hill wind project, and will be partly funded using the company’s internal green tax – a “carbon fee” which the company’s finance department is administering, designed to make Microsoft carbon neutral.

wind farm turbine renewable energy green sunset © Johan Swanepoel ShutterstockWinds of change

“Microsoft is committed to reducing our environmental footprint,” said Microsoft’s Robert Bernard on the company’s green blog. Somewhat opaquely, the blog says “we continue to meet our goal of becoming carbon neutral,” but then says the approach to doing this “continues to evolve”.

Specifically, Microsoft has been won over to “power purchase agreements” where a large customer makes a contract for a sizeable chunk of energy from a renewable provider. This deal is some 60 percent bigger than one Microsoft signed in November for the 110MW Keechi plant in Texas.

The company has not said how much either deal is costing, but it is brokered by EDF Renewable Energy which will become the owner of the Pilot Hill project. The deal will provide an estimated 675000 MWh (675GWh) of energy per year, which will start to flow in 2015.

Meanwhile, Google has been funding reneable infrastructure since  at least 2010 and has wind power agreements in Texas and Sweden, as well as Oklahoma where, as we all know, the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

In the UK, BT has been a staunch wind power advocate, recently investing £440 million in wind farms in Wales, Scotland and Lancashire. Like Microsoft’s deals, BT’s are done through a partner, in this case npower.

Oh and Microsoft isn’t just using wind power – it has a data centre in Quincy, Washington powered by hydro-electricity.

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