The Software behemoth has been among the leaders in the shift to clean power.
Building on its pledge to do it, and supported by a stronger business case than ever, Microsoft has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for renewable power from a 90MW wind project in rural Pennsylvania, US.
The Big Level wind facility by TransAlta is the third PPA signed by Microsoft in the PJM Interconnection and takes the company’s total renewable electricity portfolio to more than 1.2 GW across six states and three continents.
John Kousinioris, President, TransAlta Renewables added, “Microsoft is a leader in the procurement of renewable energy and a catalyst for change in how corporate customers can control their energy procurement.”
The wind farm, located in Hector Township, now under construction, is expected to start operations in the second half of 2019. And the PPA as announced by the Canadian renewable energy solutions company is Microsoft’s third such PPA signed in the PJM Interconnection.
“Working with companies like TransAlta to bring new projects online, especially wind projects in states outside the Wind Belt, is good for our business, the community, and the clean energy economy,” said Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Sustainability, Microsoft.
Further to sourcing 100% renewable power for its own operations, Microsoft is demonstrating further leadership in the transition to renewables by helping to open up the market to smaller players. The IT giant has created a new contract to sit on top of PPAs to remove risk for buyers and incentivize aggregated energy storage – providing solutions that are scalable and affordable.
To overcome the challenges and hurdles that’s a smaller firm might have to encounter while taking on the daunting task of shifting to clean energy, Microsoft have encouraged thousands of smaller companies to invest in PPAs, and has developed a ‘volume firming agreement’ (VFA) to address near-term price fluctuations created by the hourly variability of wind and solar. Effectively, VFAs remove the risk from the buyer and relocate it to those who want it – namely insurance companies. It’s a model that is well worth exploring, and possibly emulating for larger firms across the world that operate in open access markets. Besides also being a great model for stronger corporate action.
As well as clean power, the project will bring multiple economic and social benefits to Hector Township. Construction is now underway – creating 100 jobs, and over the life of the project, local communities will receive more than $8 million in tax benefits and landowner lease payments.
“This rapid growth, both within our portfolio and beyond, is because these deals are good for business,” said Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Sustainability, Microsoft. While Microsoft, flush with profits after a great run is doing the right thing, other tech majors have also followed, from Facebook to Google, supporting the spread of renewables.