About three months ago, word was spreading that Microsoft could soon bypass local power companies in Washington and buy its own power. At the time, the company publically announced its plan and even filed for the deal with Puget Sound Energy as part of procedures, but things still needed to be approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC).
In a turn for the good, Microsoft announced yesterday,that the WUTC has formally approved the contract, ultimately allowing the tech company to directly purchase clean energy to power their 15 million-square-foot Puget Sound region campus.
According to Microsoft, this agreement comes as the result of "several years of collaborative work" between Microsoft and Puget energy. The agreement also promotes the use of renewable energy and will protect Puget Sound Energy ratepayers.
Overall, 80 percent of Microsoft's energy load in the Puget sound area is covered in the agreement, and the remaining 20 percent will still continue to be serviced and provided by Puget Sound Energy. Other terms of the agreement include the fact that Microsoft will buy only carbon-free energy; purchase renewables at a level greatly in excess of the Renewable Portfolio Standards percentages and take significant actions to protect ratepayers.
In a statement, Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft commented on the agreement:
This agreement is good for our business, but more importantly it’s good for residents, the environment and the state of Washington... Once the transition is complete, the vast majority of our Puget Sound campus will be powered solely by carbon-free fuels. This contract is a helpful innovation in meeting the demand for renewable energy in a way that protects other energy consumers.
As part of the agreement, Microsoft will pay a substantial transition fee, and fund low-income, and energy conservation programs. Having plans to shift to 50% renewable energy by 2018, Microsoft is no stranger to green and clean energy, even receiving NA Wind Deal of the Year award.