Microsoft and Volt Energy Utility, a minority-owned solar energy development firm, developed the framework to leverage corporate emmission-reduction goals to support environmental justice, community and diversity initiatives. This framework, and the Wheatsborough project, supports Microsoft’s goal to supply 100% of its energy needs with renewable energy while modeling a power procurement approach that redirects resources to community-led clean energy and resiliency projects.
“Working to bring the benefits of solar energy to Erie County in collaboration with Microsoft and Apex Clean Energy, who share a commitment to community and the environment, is vitally important to our company,” said Gilbert Campbell, CEO of Volt Energy Utility and board chair of the Sharing the Power Foundation.
The PPA prioritizes the equitable distribution of the benefits of the clean energy economy, with a focus on initiatives advancing women and minority leadership and job creation, carbon neutrality, habitat restoration and end-of-life recycling. A percentage of the revenue produced by the PPA will be invested into the Sharing the Power Foundation, which is focused on environmental health and economic justice in historically underserved urban and rural communities. In addition, Wheatsborough Solar will fund community and conservation grants and clean energy workforce development. Through the Apex Conservation Grant Program, $125,000 will be awarded for local wildlife conservation, restoration or other environmental remediation investments in or near the project community.
“As Microsoft works toward a more sustainable and equitable future, it’s exciting to see our collaboration with Volt supplying new renewable energy with an organization like Apex,” said Kourtney Nelson, director of renewable energy procurement at Microsoft. “As we look to meet our ambitious clean energy goals, it’s critical that we deliver benefits to under-resourced communities—and that’s what this project will do.”
During construction, which is underway, Wheatsborough will create over 100 local jobs, at least 75% of which will be for Ohio residents. The project is expected to come online in the first half of 2025.
“Developing renewable energy projects that are reliable and sustainable is imperative; prioritizing equitable deployment will further elevate our industry’s overall impact,” said Ken Young, CEO of Apex. “This agreement allows Wheatsborough Solar to move beyond the megawatt, creating a lasting impact in the local community and beyond.”
News item from Apex Clean Energy