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Power Earth Microsoft

Microsoft 'Cuts The Cord' With A Local Power Utility To Pursue Greener Energy (seattletimes.com) 62

Frosty Piss summarizes the Seattle Times: Microsoft will bypass Puget Sound Energy to secure carbon-free power on wholesale markets under an agreement with state regulators. In 2015, 60 percent of PSE electricity came from coal and natural-gas plants, according to company statistics. The agreement calls for Microsoft to pay a $23.6 million transition fee to Puget Sound Energy, which the utility will pass on to its Western Washington customers... But the settlement does not address one major financial issue that hangs over PSE and its customers -- how to handle the costs of shutting down coal-fired units in the Colstrip, Montana, power station... State regulators and Puget Sound Energy determined that Microsoft is legally responsible for a share of the Colstrip, Montana coal-fired generating plant costs.

Microsoft 'Cuts The Cord' With A Local Power Utility To Pursue Greener Energy

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  • nothing in montana bothers you
  • There is no mention of "cord cutting" in TFA. The power company will just route "cleaner energy" to MS through the existing network.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaMattster ( 977781 )

      There is no mention of "cord cutting" in TFA. The power company will just route "cleaner energy" to MS through the existing network.

      No only that, but PSE is going to be stuck with the clean-up costs of the sites containing the coal-fired energy generation plants. Microsoft used the system under the guise of clean energy to avoid having to take responsibility for any site remediation. Microsoft is just one more proof that no company does anything out of altruism - they do not really give a rat's ass about where the energy comes from, so long as its supply is never (or rarely) disrupted and they can keep their data centers churning out se

      • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday July 15, 2017 @06:50PM (#54816509)

        No only that, but PSE is going to be stuck with the clean-up costs of the sites containing the coal-fired energy generation plants.

        There is this:

        The agreement calls for Microsoft to pay a $23.6âmillion transition fee to PSE, which the utility will pass on to its Western Washington customers.

        A "transition fee"... What does this mean? They have to pay not use the utility? I'm not saying the fee is bad, just that the story doesn't say what this fee is for. Reading the actual agreement suggests that the costs of the Montana clean-up is still an open issue and will be litigated.

        Now, Microsoft "dislike" aside, and for the sake of argument let's suppose it was some other big customer, why should they pay anything for the clean-up and shut-down of the Montana coal plant? Did Microsoft (or any other big customer) have some powerful say in the construction of this plant? A choice not to support it's use? Is there some compelling reason why Microsoft (or any other customer) should pay for Puget Sound Energy's ill-advised reliance on an energy resource that was almost certainly environmentally questionable when the plant was built?

        • I assume that, like most huge data centers with enormous power drains, their needs were involved in the planning of and construction of regional power plants, so having a fee associated with a shutdown or changeover makes lots of sense.
          • Shutdown as a result of blindly pulling out, yes. But this sounds like a shutdown as a result of the utility's bad planning and lack of foresight. It looks like the utility is trying to stick and external customer with the bill for being a "victim" of a changing time.

            This isn't a case of MS not using that power anymore. It's a case of MS saying "you screwed up and we don't want to be part of your screw up"

      • I am so glad to be completely free of Microsoft since 1998 when I discovered OpenBSD.

        Ok, but just how aware of where their power comes from do you think OpenBSD is? Find a different reason to hate Microsoft because that one's lame.

      • PSE is going to be stuck with the clean-up costs of the sites containing the coal-fired energy generation plants.

        Since they presumably own those plants what is the problem? If a customer decides to stop doing business with a company they are not responsible for the associated costs because of the loss of business. Frankly, I don't understand why MS even has to pay $23.6M just to not use PSE's power anymore. It would be completely unacceptable for a customer who switched from Windows to Linux to have to pay Microsoft a fee to cover the increase in costs to Microsoft due to the switch.

    • There is no mention of "cord cutting" in TFA. The power company will just route "cleaner energy" to MS through the existing network.

      You're being pedantic.

      "Cutting the cord" is a phrase that means they will not be buying energy from the utility, which comes from a number of sources including coal and other "unsustainable" and dirty sources. Instead they will contract and buy from "green" sources that will then me routed into the pool of power that the utility then delivers to MS.

      Seriously, think it through. :)

      • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

        Maybe it's just me indeed. But, for me:
        "cutting the cord" != having your provider setup new gateways

        • Maybe it's just me indeed. But, for me:
          "cutting the cord" != having your provider setup new gateways

          Yes and no...

          to end your connection with someone, OR to stop depending on their support

          http://www.macmillandictionary... [macmillandictionary.com]

          Synonyms include: "finish with" a relationship, which may or may not include all components of the relationship. So there would be several possibilities including Microsoft setting up a giant wind farm or tons of solar on their Redmond campus, or simply (as is the case) not buying energy from the local utility while still using the infrastructure.

          But this raises a question: The huge one time payment not withstanding, it seems to me that even though they will

        • "cutting the cord" != having your provider setup new gateways

          You'd think so but a "creative" decided that there would be "better optics" if they used the phrase as a deliberate move to mislead.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Cutting thr cord meand cutting wires for real. Then, use solar panels or windmills on-site.

        Routing green energy 'from afar' is a scam: If the local coal plant fail, the region will blackout. Ms will not get power then, even if the remote green plant is up.

        Similiarly, if the green plant fails, ms will have power as long as the coal thing is up. Perhaps the green company will loose income in such a case, but any "green power through the grid" is a scam. Most og your power comes from the closest power plant, n

    • There is no mention of "cord cutting" in TFA.

      My dysfunctional English Wackyparser read this as "curd cutting", which would kinda sorta make sense since "cutting the cheese" causes a big stink, as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yet another example of why the climate change deniers are just irrelevent. Let them scream, argue, bitch and moan, lie about the " war on coal" like Mitch McConnell (R- retard) does, but in the end, they are nothing.

    Things are changing and things as being done - regardless of the Republicans quest to turn this country and World into a hot backwards theocratic shithole.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

      Yet another example of why the climate change deniers are just irrelevent. Let them scream, argue, bitch and moan, lie about the " war on coal" like Mitch McConnell (R- retard) does, but in the end, they are nothing.

      Things are changing and things as being done - regardless of the Republicans quest to turn this country and World into a hot backwards theocratic shithole.

      The process of handing leadership to the world has accelerated, and the deniers are pleased that Science, something that they do not believe in at all, is properly ignored in the administration of their dear leader https://www.vox.com/energy-and... [vox.com] which is as it should be.

      The Republican's have found the ultimate loophole. With a vote, or with an election, the entire set of the laws of physics can be nullified.

      But to be serious, as American tunnels down this anti-science mineshaft, we are ceding leade

      • Anyone who thought my post was offtopic needs to read it again - if they dare. Renewables are connected with climate change, and the opposition to them is both anti-science and denialism. But it's the same attitude - denialists think that they can change the laws of physics with their opinion. I understand that the House of REpresentatives has come up with a way to create superconductors by having a vote to repeal Ohm's Law.
  • For extra money, you can get windmill electrons instead of normal electrons! This is totally not an accounting gimmick that means that you get the same electrons anyway, because the grid kind of, well, mixes and matches.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 15, 2017 @07:09PM (#54816605)

      Power companies do this sort of thing all the time. For instance...

      Back when we still resided in Seattle, (20+ years ago) my wife and I were up in NE Washington on our way home from a vacation in the Canadian Rockies. We decided to take in a dam tour up in that corner of the state. Funny thing was, that dam was owned by Seattle City Light! They weren't sending that electricity over 300 miles of dedicated line over to Seattle, though - they were selling it to local utilities, and through a game of economic musical chairs were in turn eventually getting an equivalent amount of electricity from sources much nearer to Seattle.

      • Funny thing was, that dam was owned by Seattle City Light! They weren't sending that electricity over 300 miles of dedicated line over to Seattle, though - they were selling it to local utilities, and through a game of economic musical chairs were in turn eventually getting an equivalent amount of electricity from sources much nearer to Seattle.

        Ownership of infrastructure is often set up the way it is for odd economics reasons. For example, IIRC historically a lot of companies that had nothing to do with whatever they owned would buy infrastructure, airplanes, and certain other major capital investments because the IRS let them deduct significantly greater amount for depreciation than the actual economic depreciation, and they could be re-sold after complete tax depreciation and start the process again. In effect it was a massive government subsid

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      You always get the same electrons with AC, they just move back and forth to transmit energy so the electron from the plant never reach you ;-)

      • The electrons never reach anyone, regardless of whether it's AC or DC.

        At the source, an electron transfer in the valence band of an atom affects the valence band of a nearby atom.

        And so the chain goes.

        It's more a matter of pressure transfer than actual flow.

        No electrons propagate from the source to the destination. Only the force is transmitted.

        This is true at radio frequencies as well, including WiFi charging (or communications).

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          What does "DC" mean? Here on /., I only have heard about AC.

          Nah, I won't search the topic because I vaguely remember something similar to what you say so, I will assume that you are correct!
          Thanks,

        • The electrons never reach anyone, regardless of whether it's AC or DC.

          That's true for AC but not true for DC although the drift velocity is usually in milli- or micro- metres per second so it will take a while for the electrons to get very far. Even with AC there will be some diffusion of electrons as the current flows since when the current reverses it's not guaranteed that exactly the same electrons will flow back, just the same number. However, this process should be even slower than DC.

          In the end, though it's a pointless exercise since there is no such thing as a "gre

          • OK, I guess.

            This is in my wheelhouse.

            For all of the above, current "flow" is a convenient description, but is inaccurate.

            From one point to another, electrons push on each other down a conductor and the ripple effect cause force transmission.

            A physical electron does not travel. It simply moves out and back.

            The electron is on the valence, or outer band of an atom.

            For DC, the ripple effect is circular where energy (not an electron) travels in one direction from the source, through resistance and back to the so

            • A physical electron does not travel. It simply moves out and back.

              Not in a DC circuit. With a DC circuit, the electrons do have a net movement - they may more back and forth but they move forth more than they move back. If they did not move there would be no constant magnetic field. The electrons do move a lot slower than the electric field but they do move and you can measure their speed.

              Scintillation is a completely different phenomenon to do with emission of light. In AC circuits the electrons still have a net movement but it reverses with the current so that over

    • For extra money, you can get windmill electrons instead of normal electrons! This is totally not an accounting gimmick that means that you get the same electrons anyway, because the grid kind of, well, mixes and matches.

      You're missing the point. Also, Microsoft is in the business of making money, so if the cost didn't work for their accountants, they wouldn't do it because the momentary Public Relations value is, well, momentary.

      And, no one thinks they are getting "different" electrons. Your statement is meaningless blather about nothing.

    • This is totally not an accounting gimmick

      Sarcasm aside you hit the nail on the head but for all the wrong reasons. This IS exactly an accounting gimmick designed specifically to drive investment in green energy. If I pay extra on my bill I don't expect a green electron to flow down my cable instead of a black one, but I do expect that money to be transferred to a green energy project.

      Enough green energy projects start up, eventually the black electrons go away completely as the coal plants are no longer viable as customers pay a bit extra to ensur

  • ... the path to grokking this is to chase the money.

    Obviously, this is a business move for Microsoft.

    "Millions of dollars," is a negligible amount, compared to the order of magnitude of Microsoft's disposable income, which is in the billions.

    So, what I'm getting from this is that Microsoft does not want the source of PSE power, but it does want to use PSE's transmission lines .

    That's what Microsoft is paying for: the use of infrastructure to deliver alternative sources of power.

    There's probably something

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