A settlement announced on Wednesday reveals an expansion of Microsoft's carbon-free electricity usage. The company is in talks with Puget Sound Energy to establish a tariff that would allow the Redmond giant to buy its power from other sources. If implemented, the deal could open to other organizations.
“This is a step that helps us gain control of our own energy destiny, and meet our renewable-energy goals,” said Microsoft's government affairs director Irene Plenefisch. Continuing, she praised PSE as being “very innovative and flexible in thinking about this.”
Microsoft has reduced its emissions by over 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent since its commitment in 2012. At its mountain view campus, the company has over 2,000 solar panels.
Conversely, PSE generates close to 60% of its energy from fossil fuels alone. 36% of the power comes from coal, while natural gas accounts for 29%. Hydroelectric is the utility's main source of green energy (33%), with wind only at 1%.
This means PSE is unable to create a package for Microsoft that contains entirely carbon free power. The new deal would let Microsoft pick and choose its energy sources for a reduced footprint.
Paving the Way for Others
The agreement came from discussions between Microsoft, PSE and Utilities and Transportation Commission staff. However, there were several other parties interested in the signing.
Wal-Mart stores, Kroger Company, Sam's West Inc. and the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities all paid close attention to the deal. At this point, Microsoft has only expressed interest in taking it further and hasn't provided any details.
First, however, UTC must approve the settlement, a decision that should come later in the year. If passed, PSE would still deliver the electricity of other providers to Microsoft and help maintain the network. Doing so would require the tech giant to pay a $23.6 million fee, which PSE would pass on to other customers.
Despite the agreement, PSE isn't getting too attached.
“Microsoft is still a customer. But it is an evolution in our relationship,” said PSE's director of state regulatory affairs Ken Johnson.