In what Bernhard would term a step toward carbon footprint reduction, Microsoft Corp. has entered into a 20-year contract to buy power from a new wind farm in Texas, the first time the company has ever purchased electricity directly from a specific source.

The deal involves a new wind energy site being built by RES Americas, under construction at a location just north of Fort Worth. Under terms of the deal announced by the company recently, Microsoft will buy all the energy produced by the large 55 wind turbines planned for the Keechi Wind Project. Microsoft is agreeing to buy all 430,000 megawatt hours of energy the wind farm produces. That's enough energy to power up to 45,000 homes, or about 5 percent to 10 percent of the company's total electricity consumption, which the company says will go a long way in helping them to reduce its carbon footprint.

Microsoft's large San Antonio Data Center would directly benefit from the energy bought from the Keechi Wind Project though it will not supply all the Center's power requirements. Company reps say the Keechi Project, once up and running, will deliver electricity to the same Texas Grid that provides power to San Antonio and the Data Center.

The company says by ensuring that renewable energy powers more of the grid, it can help to reduce carbon emissions created by coal and gas-fired electrical plants.

Microsoft is financing the purchase through internal funds collected as part of a "carbon fee" project. The company has been charging its departments for every ton of carbon produced, an amount that could generate as much $100 million a year that can be re-invested into green energy projects.

Texas is the nation's largest producer of wind energy. According to Microsoft's Brian Janous, Microsoft's overall director of energy strategy, the company looked at several other states and projects, but chose Texas in part because of a $6.8 billion transmission line project that brings West Texas-generated wind to more power-hungry parts of the state.

It's not the first company project designed to reduce its carbon footprint and Janous says it won't be the last. But any contribution toward sustainable energy is a step in the right direction and he hopes other industries, including agriculture, will follow the lead in building a better world.


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