EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) and Microsoft Corporation are celebrating the ground breaking of the Pilot Hill Wind Project located 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Kankakee and Iroquois counties. The project benefits from a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Microsoft, which advanced the project by providing the long-term revenue certainty needed to get Pilot Hill off of the ground and into construction.
The participation of companies like Microsoft in renewable energy generation projects points to a growing trend of organizations directly procuring clean energy. Companies are coming to understand that setting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments can deliver attractive cost-savings benefits while locking in long-term energy price stability.
The procurement of renewable energy is part of Microsoft’s goal of achieving and maintaining carbon neutrality and net zero emissions — a commitment that Microsoft made beginning in its fiscal year 2013, which began on July 1, 2012, for its data centers, software development labs, offices and even employee air travel by increasing efficiency and purchasing renewable energy.
“The Pilot Hill Wind Project is important to Microsoft because it helps solidify our commitment to taking significant action to shape our energy future by developing clean, low-cost sources to meet our energy needs,” said Paul Scanlan, senior program manager, Energy Strategy for Micrsoft. “Microsoft is focused on transforming the energy supply chain for cloud services, from the power plant to the computer chip. Long-term commitments like Pilot Hill help ensure a cleaner grid to supply energy to our datacenters.”
Pilot Hill will also trigger significant economic development to the Kankakee County area as tens of millions of dollars over the life of the project will be provided in the form of lease payments to landowners and in property taxes.
The 175 MW wind project is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2015.