Microsoft Corp. today announced new agreements to boost clean energy and connectivity in Washington state. The two agreements with Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) will see Microsoft receive carbon-free electricity to power its Puget Sound campuses and partner with the PUD on broadband connectivity in Chelan County.
“This agreement provides much more than renewable energy for Microsoft — it’s an investment in new opportunities for communities in central Washington and the competitiveness of Washington state,” said Shelley McKinley, general manager, Technology and Corporate Responsibility, Microsoft. “We’re proud to be powering our Puget Sound operations in a way that reduces carbon emissions, supports the clean energy sector and supports efforts to expand connectivity. We look forward to working with Chelan PUD to achieve these goals.”
Through the five-year power supply agreement, Microsoft will receive hydropower from Chelan PUD that meets the high bar for carbon-free and clean energy established in the direct access contract struck last year. It will also keep carbon-free power generated in Washington state within the state, delivering economic and environmental benefits for Chelan County, the greater Seattle area and the state.
The two organizations also signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on efforts to expand broadband service in the most challenging, most rural parts of Chelan County. Connectivity is a shared goal of the two organizations, as demonstrated by the PUD’s success in currently providing broadband access to about three-quarters of the county, and Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which aims to bring broadband to three million people in rural America by 2022.
The power supply agreement directly enables this work, as revenues from the power sales will be used to fund hydropower reinvestment, broadband expansion and other benefits for Chelan County. Microsoft will bring technical assistance to this effort, supporting Chelan PUD’s desire to expand technology access to remote parts of Chelan County.
“Today, innovative technology is pairing up with renewable hydropower to support our shared goals of a healthy environment and a strong, evolving economy,” said General Manager Steve Wright, Chelan PUD. “The new partnership with Microsoft provides immediate economic value for Chelan County as well as long-term benefits in broadband connectivity. This deal displays hydropower’s capability to support achieving 100% clean energy goals, while providing funding and access to expertise to help meet our objective of providing broadband access to 85% of county residents and hopefully more.”
“This is an exciting day for the state of Washington and especially for residents of Chelan County,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “This agreement between Microsoft and Chelan PUD is a perfect example of how Washington’s renewable, reliable hydropower resources will continue to play a central role in driving innovation, supporting rural economic development and transitioning our economy to 100% clean energy.”
Chelan County PUD has an all-renewable, carbon-free generation portfolio composed of more than 99% hydropower.
In addition, Microsoft is in the final stages of negotiating an additional renewable energy purchase agreement that would see the company contract for output of a new wind or solar resource in the state, expected to be sited and operational within the next five years.
No additional infrastructure is required in Chelan’s service area to be able to send power from Chelan PUD to Microsoft. Chelan PUD will work with Powerex Corp., of Vancouver, B.C., which will provide real-time forecasting scheduling and transmission services to assist the PUD in transmitting its carbon-free power from Chelan County to Microsoft’s headquarters.