This week, staff of the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), along with Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and seven other parties, reached a settlement that will allow Microsoft to achieve its corporate commitments to carbon neutrality and renewable energy while at the same time furthering state policies regarding the development of renewable resources and supporting low income initiatives.
According to a UTC press release, the settlement agreement establishes a special contract between Microsoft and PSE that will allow the tech company to source their energy from the wholesale market, while making commitments to:
• Procure only carbon neutral and renewable energy resources,
• Maintain its contributions to PSE’s energy efficiency program, and
• Pay a $23.6 million transition fee that PSE would return to its customers.
If approved, the agreement would require Microsoft to maintain its current contributions to PSE’s low-income energy program, and provide additional funds for low-income energy efficiency services and renewable energy technology.
“When finalized, this contract will be good for our business, the environment and Washington state,” said Irene Plenefisch, Government Affairs director for Microsoft, in a statement issued to the Reporter. “It will allow us to directly purchase renewable energy, while protecting Puget Sound Energy’s ratepayers, maintaining funding for conservation programs, and increasing our support for low income assistance. Procuring our own energy will also be a critical step towards achieving our sustainability and renewable energy goals more effectively and efficiently.”
Added Ken Johnson, PSE director of State Regulatory Affairs, also in a statement sent to the Reporter: “Even with this settlement, Microsoft will remain a valued customer on PSE’s distribution network, and it will continue to contribute toward the company’s conservation and low-income programs. We will continue to work with all our customers to provide innovative products and services, just as we have done for Microsoft.”
The settlement will be presented before the three member commission, which can choose to accept, reject, or modify the agreement.
In October, PSE filed a tariff to create a new retail service for large industrial or commercial customers that could acquire energy from power suppliers other than PSE.
Along with UTC staff, PSE and Microsoft, the Public Counsel Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, the Kroger Company, The Energy Project, the Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition, Sam’s West Inc. and Walmart Stores Inc., the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities and the NW Energy Coalition signed the agreement.
Bellevue-based PSE provides electricity service to more than 1.1 million electric customers in eight Washington counties: King, Pierce, Island, Kitsap, Kittitas, Skagit, Whatcom and Thurston.
The UTC regulates the rates and services of telecommunications companies, investor-owned electric utilities, natural gas and water companies, garbage-collection haulers, household-goods movers and charter-bus companies, commercial ferries, pipeline companies and a low-level radioactive waste repository.