Microsoft Announces Largest Wind Project to Date

Microsoft is committed to reducing our environmental footprint, and over the past two years we continue to meet our goal of becoming carbon neutral. Our approach to meeting that goal, however, continues to evolve. Today, we are announcing another move to make our operations more environmentally sustainable by signing a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy in Illinois that will be funded in part by proceeds from Microsoft’s carbon fee.

This is our second PPA, following the purchase in November of wind energy from the Keechi Wind Project in Texas. This most recent power purchase, the Pilot Hill Wind Project, is our largest wind investment to date. It is nearly 60 percent larger than Keechi, at 175 MW versus Keechi’s 110 MW. This project builds on our commitment to renewable energy and our strategic objective to transform the energy supply chain toward radically greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

The agreement with EDF Renewable Energy will see Microsoft purchase up to an estimated 675,000 MWh of renewable energy from Pilot Hill Wind Project each year, enough to meet the power needs of 70,000 homes in Illinois. The Pilot Hill Wind Project is a 175 MW wind facility 60 miles from Chicago, IL, spanning the border of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties and the wind farm is on the same electric grid that powers our datacenter in Chicago. Pilot Hill Wind Project construction has already commenced and will begin delivering green power in 2015.

Because this is a new project, the energy generated at Pilot Hill is “additional,” which means that our purchase is bringing new renewable energy onto the Illinois electric grid. By purchasing wind, we will reduce the overall amount of emissions associated with operating Microsoft facilities and hopefully spur additional investment in renewable energy. Because the Chicago datacenter draws power from the Illinois power grid, projects like Pilot Hill help provide a non-polluting source of energy that displaces greenhouse
gas emissions from conventional power.

Microsoft’s commitment to green power is now included in our Global Public Policy Agenda, and extends to our datacenters and our offices. Our datacenter in San Antonio, Texas uses recycled waste water for cooling and our Quincy, Washington facility uses hydropower as its primary source of energy. Last fall we announced a new proof-of-concept datacenter to bring the power plant inside the datacenter by mounting fuel cells onto the datacenter’s server racks, and these fuel cell datacenters have taken one step closer to becoming a reality following a successful demonstration of the concept this year. In addition, over the past fiscal year, we have purchased more than 3 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, equivalent to 100 percent of our global electricity use.

We know that we still have work to do, and we will continue to pursue energy efficiency and clean energy projects, from smarter buildings to more efficient datacenters. The Pilot Hill Wind Project is another major step to continue our drive to reduce our environmental footprint and to be carbon neutral.

Check out our new infographic that describes how Microsoft is buying green energy.

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