Microsoft granted direct purchase of renewable energy - Smart Energy Decisions

Utilities, Commercial, Distributed Generation, Finance, Sourcing Renewables  -  July 14, 2017

Regulators grant Microsoft direct access

Photo of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., provided by Microsoft.

Microsoft Corp. announced July 13 that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a contract that allows the company to directly purchase clean energy from the wholesale market for its Puget Sound campus.

Under the contract with utility Puget Sound Energy, Microsoft is allowed to purchase wholesale market carbon-free energy for up to 80% of its total energy. The other 20% will continue to be purchased from the Washington-based utility, according to a news release.

“This agreement is good for our business, but more important it’s good for residents, the environment and the state of Washington,” Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, said in a statement. “Once the transition is complete, the vast majority of our Puget Sound campus will be powered solely by carbon-free fuels.”

The agreement reflects a growing recognition among certain utility players about the shifting energy needs of large commercial and industrial companies.

The contract includes the stipulation that Microsoft only buys carbon-free energy and buy renewable energy at a level, “greatly in excess of the Renewable Portfolio Standards percentages established by the Washington Energy Independence Act (I-937),” according to the news release. Microsoft will also continue to use Puget Sound Energy’s distribution system.

It also requires that Microsoft “take significant action to protect ratepayers,” including payment of a substantial transaction fee.

The agreement approval follows an April 18 announcement from Puget Sound Energy of the “Green Direct” tariff program, also approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Multiple large companies in the region signed up for the green tariff, including REI, Starbucks and Target. The tariff program will operate separately from and not interfere with the agreement between Puget Sound Energy and Microsoft.

A report by the World Resources Institute found that Puget Sound Energy is only one of eight utilities in the country offering this kind of tariff program.

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