Grant PUD’s conservation rebate paid forward by Microsoft

Data center operator provides $480,000 to benefit Grant County residents

EPHRATA — Grant PUD's board of commissioners recognized Microsoft officials today after the technology leader agreed to contribute a $480,000 energy conservation rebate the company is forgoing into initiatives to benefit Grant County residents as part of the utility's Pay-it-Forward Partnership. Microsoft Corp. operates a datacenter in Grant County and is a customer of Grant PUD.

"I would like to recognize Microsoft for having the generosity of seeing needs that can be met through using their conservation credit for the betterment of the county," Grant PUD commissioner Thomas Flint stated about the partnership.

Fellow PUD commissioner Nelson Cox echoed his appreciation.

"It's great to see that it's countywide support," Cox stated. "That's a big kudos."

Grant PUD will make a $470,000 contribution to the Columbia Basin Foundation on behalf of Microsoft. Microsoft will then work with the foundation to have $400,000 of its total rebate go toward completion of Big Bend Community College's Workforce Education Center. North Central Washington, including Grant County, is one of six regions chosen for Microsoft's TechSpark initiative to foster economic opportunity and investment.

"Sustainability is a core value for Microsoft, and that drives efforts to make our operations more energy efficient and environmentally friendly," said Mike Egan, senior director of Microsoft's TechSpark program. "Our focus on sustainability can also be found in our work to help make communities more sustainable, and this contribution to Grant PUD's Pay-it-Forward Partnership supports that goal. As part of our TechSpark initiative, Microsoft is working to foster new economic opportunities in North Central Washington. We see Big Bend Community College's new Workforce Education Center as an investment in the future of the region where people can get the education and skills that are in high demand by employers."

Another $50,000 of the rebate will help the foundation direct locally-grown produce to healthy-eating programs for families in Grant County, and $20,000 will help school districts participate in an environmental-education program at Grant PUD's Visitor Center at Wanapum Dam. The remaining $10,000 will go directly into Grant PUD's Share the Warmth fund, which helps families in need pay their power bills.

Microsoft entered into a partnership with Grant PUD to make significant energy-efficient upgrades to equipment at its datacenter operations in Quincy and have them audited by a third-party verifier. This helped Grant PUD fulfill the requirements of Washington's Energy Independence Act (I-937) by achieving cost-effective conservation requirements required by the act. As part of this law, qualifying utilities must report their energy conservation achievements to the State of Washington every two years. Grant PUD has established a conservation goal for the 2018-2019 biennium of 32,149 megawatt-hours.

"Microsoft's participation in this program contributed to a significant savings in energy and also dollars for Grant PUD's customers," said Terry McKenzie, senior manager of Customer Solutions. "We were able to meet our biennium target at the lowest cost since the start of the program in 2010. Our Energy Services Department has worked hard on pursuing these projects in the county so we can meet our target at the least cost. It was a win-win for Microsoft and Grant PUD's other 40,000 customers."

From left:Terry Leas and Leanne Parton, Big Bend Community College; Nelson Cox, Grant PUD commissioner; Gigi Lowry, Microsoft; Tom Flint and Larry Schaapman, Grant PUD commissioners; Patrick Medaglia and Lisa Karstetter, Microsoft; Tom Moncrief, Columbia Basin Foundation; Dale Walker, Grant PUD commission president; Judy Wilson, Grant PUD commissioner; Leslie Taylor and Corrine Isaak, Columbia Basin Foundation.

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