Microsoft Makes Large Texas Wind Power Purchase

Microsoft has signed a deal to purchase the entire output of a 110 MW wind farm northwest of Fort Worth near the town of Jacksboro.  The company says that the purchase is intended to help deliver on its ongoing commitment to become carbon neutral.  The wind project, called Keechi, will be built and operated by RES America.

The 20 year power deal will be funded in part from an internal carbon tax that Microsoft imposes on its company divisions. The “carbon fee” is intended to reduce the company’s carbon foot print and fund renewable energy purchases.  The company estimates that they have raised $10 million within the first year of the program.

While the purchase is expected to provide 5-10% of the companies electricity needs, it will not be used to power Microsoft’s massive datacenter in San Antonio, Texas.  That facility happens to set within a non-deregulated part of the Texas electricity market that is not open to electric competition.  Consequently, the data center is required to obtain its power from CPS Energy, one of the state’s city owned electricity providers.

Under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the Washington software giant will purchase the entire output of the wind farm for the next 20 years.  Even though the electricity produced by the wind project will not be used directly to power the company’s datacenter in San Antonio, it will have the effect of bringing addition green power into the Texas grid. Texas is already the largest producer of wind energy in the United States.

For 2013, Microsoft was recognized by the EPA as the second largest purchaser of green power in the U.S.  The company purchases enough green energy to meet 80% of its electricity needs within the U.S. Another tech giant, Intel Corporation, tops the EPA’s list by using over 3 billion kWh of green energy.

Construction will begin on the 55 turbine wind project in 2014.  The facility is expected to begin providing electricity in June of 2015.