Microsoft Corp. has announced its largest purchase of wind energy to date: Under two new agreements, the global tech giant is adding on 237 MW of wind to its portfolio.
Microsoft has contracted with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to fix its long-term energy costs and purchase the power connected with the 178 MW Bloom Wind project in Kansas.
According to Microsoft, the project is the first to use ART’s new structure designed to offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects. Microsoft says the new structure has the potential to bring clean energy projects online at a faster pace.
“It is important for investors in renewable energy projects to secure long-term, stable revenues, and our structure does just that,” explains Karsten Berlage, managing director of ART. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Microsoft on this groundbreaking project.”
In addition, Microsoft has contracted with Black Hills Energy to purchase 59 MW of renewable energy credits from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, which are adjacent to Microsoft’s Cheyenne, Wyo., data center.
The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy to cover the annual energy used at the data center, says Microsoft.
With these new agreements, Microsoft’s total investment in U.S. wind has reached more than 500 MW.
Microsoft and Black Hills Energy also worked together to create a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that allows the energy company to tap the local data center’s backup generators, thereby eliminating the need for Black Hills Energy to construct a new power plant. The tariff received approval from the Wyoming Public Service Commission in July.
These are Microsoft’s third and fourth wind energy agreements, joining the 175 MW Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and 110 MW Keechi wind project in Texas. In March, Microsoft also signed an agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy Inc. to bring 20 MW of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to approach energy challenges and avenues of engagement with our utility partners,” says Christian Belady, general manager of cloud infrastructure strategy and architecture at Microsoft. “The team worked closely with ART to come up with a completely new model to enable faster adoption of renewables. Likewise, the tight engagement with Black Hills created the opportunity for Microsoft’s data center to become an asset for the local grid, maintaining reliability and reducing costs for ratepayers. This kind of deep collaboration with utilities has great potential to accelerate the pace of clean energy, benefiting all customers – not just Microsoft.”