With consumers publicly voicing support for clean and renewable energy, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has bought into the trend of large corporations and tech companies incorporating more clean energy into their business model. Google, Apple, and Facebook embraced clean energy years ago and took an aggressive approach. Netflix, along with a number of other AWS customers, voiced a strong interest in Amazon adopting renewable and clean energy policies, and Amazon listened.
A large part of this new endeavor is the construction of the largest wind farm in the southeast, already under way right here in North Carolina. Wind energy is a powerful resource on the North Carolina coast and in eastern rural farmlands. Tapping that resource has the potential to provide untold benefits to companies who invest in renewable energy in North Carolina. As Amazon develops a clean energy portfolio with a large wind farm, its larger clients, like Netflix, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Upworthy, will reap those benefits as well.
Keeping Wind Energy Local
In July 2015, business and community leaders joined together in Elizabeth City, NC to break ground on North Carolina’s first industrial-scale wind power project. The Amazon Wind Farm US East, powered by Iberdrola Renewables at Desert Wind, will span across Pasquotank and Perquimans counties and be the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina, as well as one of the first in the southeastern United States. “Breaking ground on North Carolina’s first wind farm is a perfect demonstration that getting to a competitive, clean energy future takes a team effort,” said Frank Burkhartsmeyer, Iberdrola Renewables’ U.S. Chief Executive Officer.
Once erected, the wind towers will rise to the height of a 50-story office building, and standing at around 500 feet tall. The economic boost will be felt not only by AWS, but the coastal region, as well. The project will pay $6,000 a year for each turbine hosted by local farmers and property owners. Weyerhaeuser Co., the local timber producer, stands to be paid more than $275,000 a year for hosting about 15 turbines, access roads and other equipment in Perquimans County.
The 208 megawatt wind farm will start generating around 670,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind energy — enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes. The 18 month development process of the wind farm setup with turbines and towers has provided 250 temporary construction jobs and will create at least eight permanent jobs with an annual salary of around $80,000. It will also provide more than $400,000 in tax revenue which will benefit local community resources like schools and fire and police departments. Elizabeth City provides an overview of North Carolina’s First Wind Farm.
Business & Wind Power NC Strategy
The Amazon Wind and Solar Farm will, among other things:
- Help deliver power into the electrical grids that supply both current and future AWS Cloud datacenters.
- Be the largest solar farm in Virginia.
- Be the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina.
- Fulfill Amazon’s pledge to power 40% of its cloud services from the wind farm
- Help fulfill AWS’ long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for the AWS global infrastructure footprint.
Utilizing natural resources like wind energy benefits both Amazon and the local economy. AWS will also be able to take advantage of a soon-to-expire 30% tax credit, as long as construction is completed by their December 2016 target end date.
An Economic Impact from NC Clean Energy
Bringing onshore wind production to North Carolina diversifies our energy resources to provide affordable, reliable, and secure sources of energy. When companies like Amazon bring their clean and renewable energy operations to North Carolina, they bring with them economic growth, high-paying jobs, and a more stable energy future for the next generation of North Carolinians.