Microsoft to pay fee for transition to open RE market - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Finance, Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  August 3, 2017

Microsoft director talks directs access in Washington

As Microsoft Corp. in Washington state moves its renewable energy purchasing from its utility to the open market, it will pay a $24 million transition fee, director of sustainability policy Michelle Patron said in a recent TV interview.

Speaking with E&E TV on July 26 about Microsoft’s recently approved contract with Puget Sound Energy, Patron discussed the company’s decision to pursue the deal, which allows it to buy wholesale market carbon-free energy for up to 80% of its total, and what it means for the tech company going forward.

In the interview, Patron mentioned the importance of large power consumers such as Microsoft working with utilities and with state regulators. Patron also said the move will hold Microsoft accountable for reaching its goal of purchasing 100% renewable energy for its campus by being contractually obligated to buy 100% carbon-free power.

“We wanted to be able to accelerate our sustainability goals and our purchasing of renewable and carbon-free energy at a market-based price,” Patron told E&E TV. “This allows us to do that, but it allows us to do it in a way that's also good for the local community and that's good for the environment.”

Patron also talked about the company’s recent 240 MW wind project in Cheyenne, Wyo., to power its nearby data centers, and the addition in the project to provide backup power from its generator to the city of Cheyenne when the local community utility has peak demand. She said the project reflects the company’s commitment to creating innovative solutions in how it uses its power supply.

She also addressed the emphasis Microsoft has placed on advocating for environmental and climate change issues on the national stage, primarily in response to the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Patron argued that resource management is a primary concern for Microsoft’s clients and so these issues become a central concern of how it operates its business.

“We've spoken out in the way that we have and that we're going to continue to engage on these issues,” she said. “That's why we're going to continue to take the actions that we're taking because they really are fundamental to our bottom line, they're fundamental to our customers' demand and they're fundamental to our business.”

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