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Industry News

Microsoft Increases Investments in Wind Capacity to Over 500 MW

LCG, November 17, 2016--Microsoft Corp. Monday announced its largest purchase of wind energy to date with the signing of two agreements that in total represent 237 MW of electric generating capacity. Microsoft's total investment in U.S. wind project capacity now exceeds 500 MW.

Microsoft's president and chief legal officer stated, "Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud, and these agreements represent progress toward our goal of improving the energy mix at our datacenters. Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate."

Microsoft has contracted with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to fix its long-term energy costs and purchase the environmental attributes connected with the new, 178-MW Bloom Wind project in Kansas. The project will consist of 54 Vestas V117-3.3 MW turbines and will interconnect at the 345 kV Clark County substation. Capital Power began construction on the project in September, and commercial operation of is expected in the third quarter of 2017. Capital Power the will operate Bloom Wind under a 10-year, fixed-price contract with ART, a subsidiary of Allianz SE, covering 100 percent of the project's output.

The second new Microsoft agreement is with Black Hills Corp. subsidiary Black Hills Energy, under a long-term agreement, to purchase 59 MW of renewable energy certificates from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, which are adjacent to Microsoft's Cheyenne, Wyoming, datacenter. The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy on an annual basis to cover the annual energy used at the datacenter.

"Our longstanding partnership with Microsoft productively led to this landmark collaboration. This collaboration provided them the opportunity to utilize significantly more renewable energy while still ensuring the reliability they've come to expect through our energy infrastructure and generation resources," said the chairman and CEO of Black Hills Corp. "We are proud to be a strong supporter and partner in their mission to power their datacenters with increased renewable energy resources, and look forward to our continued collaboration in the years ahead."

Microsoft and Black Hills Energy also created a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that allows the utility to use the local datacenter'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 new agreements are Microsoft's third and fourth wind energy agreements. Prior agreements are the 175-MW Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and the 110-MW Keechi wind project in Texas. Microsoft also signed an agreement in March with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy Inc. for 20-MW of solar energy in Virginia. These projects are in addition to the renewable and carbon-free energy Microsoft purchases from the grid mix in the markets in which it operates.

Microsoft is a partner with RE100, a collaborative, global initiative of businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. Microsoft plans to power its datacenters with energy that is at least 50 percent wind, hydro and solar by 2018, and 60 percent early in the next decade. Microsoft states that it has been operating its datacenters and the rest of the company at 100 percent carbon neutrality since 2012.
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