One year ago, Microsoft announced our first power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy in Texas. This agreement was a significant milestone in our commitment to carbon neutrality and also showcases how our internal carbon fee is shifting how we are able to build environmental sustainability into our long-term business planning. When we announced the project, construction had not yet begun on the site, so we’re excited to be able to provide an update on the Keechi Wind project.
Keechi Wind is located on approximately 15,000 acres of Texas ranch land which has yielded oil and gas since the early 1900s. Fortunately, it’s also a windy site that is close to existing electric transmission lines – both of which are necessary to produce clean, renewable energy. Construction of the wind project began in December 2013 and includes nearly 19 miles of new gravel roads and 72 miles of underground electrical cable linking the new wind turbines to an electrical substation constructed onsite.
The project is on schedule to begin producing up to 110 megawatts (MW) of electricity in mid-January 2015. Microsoft will purchase all of the energy from the Keechi Wind project through a 20-year PPA that we have signed with the project developer, RES Americas. RES Americas, along with their partner Enbridge, have erected the first of 55 wind turbines at the Keechi Wind Project in north central Texas. Each wind turbine includes a reinforced concrete base that weighs nearly 1.2 million pounds and is buried 9 feet deep. Bolted onto the base is a four-section steel tower 13 feet in diameter that extends upwards 311 feet (taller than a football field is long). A 158,000 pound nacelle – the cover housing all the generating components in the turbine – containing a gearbox, transformer, and other electrical components sits atop each tower. Finally three blades, each about 154 feet long, create a spinning rotor that is more than 328 feet in diameter.
Below, you can see images of a turbine at Keechi being erected. The yellow crane in these photos (600 ton capacity) is lifting the first two tower sections into place where workers are bolting them together. A couple of days later, another larger crane will hoist the nacelle onto the completed tower and then “stab” the three blades onto the hubs where workers install large bolts to connect the blades to the nacelle and complete the turbine installation.