Business, Canada, Environmental, North America

Chelan County PUD to power Microsoft’s local operations with hydropower

Microsoft Corp. announces two agreements with Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) to “boost clean energy and connectivity in Washington state.” Under the agreements, Microsoft will receive carbon-free electricity, in the form of hydropower, to power its Puget Sound campuses, and will partner with the PUD on broadband connectivity in Chelan County.  

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, Microsoft says.

“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.” 

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 providing broadband access to about three-quarters of the county and Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which aims to bring broadband to 3 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.”  

No additional infrastructure is required in Chelan’s service area to be able to send power to Microsoft. Powerex Corp. of Vancouver, BC, 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.  

Chelan County PUD has an all-renewable, carbon-free generation portfolio composed of more than 99% hydropower.