Microsoft’s Cheyenne Datacenter Entirely Powered By ‘Green’ Wind Energy

Microsoft is furthering its efforts to go green. The company just made its largest wind energy purchase (237 megawatts) through wind farms aligned with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) and Black Hills Corporation. Microsoft plans to power its datacenter in Cheyenne, Wyoming entirely by this windpower.

According to Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith, “Innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. We’re thinking differently about our datacenters and how we can build and operate them in a more sustainable way. And the innovations we’re piloting in this deal are not only good for business, but also good for local communities and the environment as well.”

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Currently, roughly 44 percent of Microsoft’s consumed energy comes from wind, solar, and hydropower. It hopes to increase this number to 50 percent by 2018 and to 60 percent in the early 2020’s. This latest purchase brings Microsoft's wind energy consumption to 500 megawatts. This does not count the power it also receives from other solar and hydropower sources. Microsoft also has wind generators in Illinois that supplies its Chicago datacenter and a Texas plant with project developer RES America.

Microsoft is not only concerned about the environment, but about energy costs. The corporation is the first buyer to participate in the ART new finance structure for wind generation projects. It noted that new infrastructure usually means higher costs to ratepayers. The ART’s system supposedly cuts costs, reduces risks, and improves certainty.

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How is new infrastructure created at a lower price? For example, Microsoft and Black Hills Corporation established a new tariff that is available to all eligible customers. The tariff allows the utility to access datacenter’s backup generators as a secondary resource for the entire grid. The end result is less expensive and more environmentally-friendly.

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