TransAlta Renewables has announced that Microsoft Corp. is its customer pursuant to a 15-year power purchase arrangement signed earlier this year for the 90-MW Big Level wind facility. Construction at Big Level is now underway in Hector Township, Pennsylvania.
“This project advances our North American growth and investment strategy,” said TransAlta Renewables President John Kousinioris. “Microsoft is a leader in procurement of renewable energy and a catalyst for change in how corporate customers can control their energy procurement. We’re pleased to collaborate with them on a project that suits their needs and helps them to achieve their sustainability and carbon-reduction objectives.”
The Big Level wind facility is the third power purchase arrangement Microsoft has signed in the PJM Interconnection. With this Big Level project, Microsoft’s total renewable energy portfolio will rise to more than 1.2 GW, covering six states and three continents.
“Working with companies like TransAlta to bring new projects online, especially wind projects in states outside the Wind Belt, is good for our business, the community and the clean energy economy,” said Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft. “We’re pleased to enter a new state in the PJM region and take another step toward our goal of enabling a clean energy future for everyone.”
The Big Level wind facility will bring direct investment, jobs, landowner lease payments, tax benefits, and clean energy to Hector Township, Pennsylvania. At the peak of construction, there will be approximately 100 full-time equivalent jobs, and over the life of the project, the communities will receive more than $8 million in tax benefits and community payments.
“We are thrilled that TransAlta Renewables and Microsoft have decided to invest in Pennsylvania,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “This project will further Pennsylvania’s role as a leader in renewable energy, while supporting the development of a cleaner and more diverse energy economy.”
Geographic and asset diversification, backstopped by long-term contracted cash flows, are cornerstones of TransAlta Renewables’ growth strategy. TransAlta Renewables’ facilities include wind and solar in Wyoming, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. TransAlta Corporation, which owns 61% of TransAlta Renewables, is also one of Canada’s largest wind generators and Alberta’s largest hydro operator, with a total of 8000 MW of owned generation capacity including 48 renewable generation facilities in 10 operating regions in North America.
TransAlta Renewables has consulted extensively with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize the impact the Big Level wind facility could have on birds and bats. Extensive on-site studies were performed with agency input, and wildlife impacts are expected to be minimal. The project is fully permitted through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Potter County Conservation District.
Commercial operation for the Big Level wind facility is expected to begin in the second half of 2019. All regulatory approvals have been completed.
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