Microsoft Extends Its Focus on Green Energy to Virginia
Microsoft forms a partnership with Dominion Virginia Power and the state of Virginia on the construction of a new 20-megawatt solar power plant.Microsoft is using its considerable financial resources and influence to help popularize renewable energy in Virginia. The Redmond, Wash., tech titan has entered into a public-private partnership with energy producer Dominion Virginia Power and the state of Virginia to kick off a new 20-megawatt solar project, the company announced this week. Situated next to Dominion's Remington generating station on land the energy producer already owns, the solar farm will pump renewable energy, enough to power 5,000 homes, directly into Virginia's power grid. The project, expected to be completed by 2017, helps Dominion inch closer to its goal of installing 400 megawatts of solar power in the state by 2020. "This will help Microsoft maintain our ongoing commitment to carbon neutrality by bringing new renewable energy directly onto the grid," said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft. "Our decision to purchase and retire the green attributes from this new solar project is consistent with how Microsoft approaches all our renewable energy purchases, and is a core aspect of our corporate commitment to environmental sustainability." The deal marks the first time Microsoft has partnered directly with one of its utilities on a renewable energy project. (The company operates massive Azure cloud data centers in Virginia.) Typically, the company supports renewable energy projects by entering into power purchase agreements, which guarantees that Microsoft will pay for the power produced by a renewable-energy plant for its data centers, helping them get off the ground.
Microsoft used power purchase agreements to for a 175-megawatt wind farm in Illinois, 60 miles south of Chicago. The Pilot Hill Wind Project, as the wind farm is called, is on the same grid that supplies the company's Chicago data center.