Microsoft Banks On Wind to Power Chicago Data Center
Windy City, indeed. A new wind farm deal will provide "more than enough" clean, renewable energy to Microsoft's cloud data center in the region.Microsoft is betting big on renewable energy. The company announced July 15 in a statement that it plans to "purchase 175 megawatts of wind energy from the Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, as part of a 20-year agreement." Funding is provided by Microsoft's internal carbon fee, which tacks on a charge for carbon emissions produced by the company's business units. Last year, Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental strategist, said the company's effort to put a price on carbon dioxide pumped $4 million into carbon offset and renewable energy programs. The move follows last year's commitment to purchase power from the Keechi Wind Farm Project in Texas. The wind farm, from energy developer RES Americas, is set to start producing 110 megawatts of electricity from 55 wind turbines. Unlike the Pilot Hill facility, the Keechi Wind Farm won't supply Microsoft's data center with electricity. The new "wind farm is on the same electric grid that powers our data center in Chicago," stated Bernard in a blog post. "Because the Chicago data center draws power from the Illinois power grid, projects like Pilot Hill help provide a non-polluting source of energy that displaces greenhouse gas emissions from conventional power." Construction is already under way.
According to Microsoft, Pilot Hill is "one of the biggest corporate wind purchases from a single facility." When it comes to investments in renewable energy, as in other techy endeavors, Microsoft faces stiff competition from another IT giant.