Global corporations are picking up speed to make a shift towards renewable sources of energy in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Some of the major technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook have started a new trend of sponsoring entire wind farms as a part of this shift.
Microsoft has announced the signing of a 20-year agreement to buy the entire output – 175 MW of wind power – of the Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois, which is near Chicago. Construction of the Pilot Hill is in progress, and on completion next year the farm will supply power to Microsoft’s data center there through the grid. The company is funding this project partly from the proceeds generated through Microsoft’s carbon fee.
The project, which will generate energy equivalent to what is required to power 70,000 homes in Illinois, is the largest wind investment made by Microsoft to date. Microsoft’s previous investment in renewable energy was in November 2013, when it purchased 110 MW of wind power from the Keechi Wind Farm in Texas.
The new 175 MW investment reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to taking firm steps to consolidate the company’s energy future by securing clean, low-cost energy sources. The company’s director of energy strategy, Brian Janous, said that Microsoft is focused on transforming the energy supply chain for cloud services from the power plant to the chip. Investments such as the Pilot Hill will ensure a cleaner grid to power its data centers.
Microsoft has clearly displayed a long-term vision by signing major agreements for cleaner energy to reduce its impact on the environment. However, there is more to such strategic moves than just a benevolent intent to save the environment. The company hopes to reduce its operating costs over time by increasing its reliance on wind power, and improve its bottom line. Such responsible corporate actions will also help strengthen the company’s reputation as a cleaner, greener enterprise and bring indirect benefits to its business over time.
Image Credit: Flickr via Timothy Tolle
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