AT&T Inks Massive Deal for 520 MW of Wind Power

by | Feb 9, 2018

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AT&T wind power NextEra Energy

The Minco III Wind Energy Center in Oklahoma. AT&T plans to purchase power from the Minco V. Credit: NextEra Energy, Inc.

AT&T signed agreements to purchase 520 megawatts of wind power from two NextEra Energy Resources subsidiaries. The massive corporate renewable energy deal calls for 300 MW from Next Era wind farms in Texas and the other 220 MW from the Minco V Wind Farm in Oklahoma.

“Having dependable sources of energy is critical to our success as a business,” Shannon Carroll, director of environmental sustainability for AT&T, told Environmental Leader. “By purchasing 520 MW of wind energy, we have been able to secure sustainable energy that we can count on to help us meet all of our customers’ needs, demonstrating value for consumers, the company, and the environment.”

As part of this wind power purchase, AT&T also signed onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles led by the World Wildlife Fund. The principles were launched in 2014 with 12 large energy buyers. Since then, the group has grown to 73 companies that the WWF says represent more than 67 million MWh of annual demand by 2020.

The wind power agreement fits into AT&T’s 2025 goal to enable carbon savings for their customers equaling 10 times the footprint of the company’s own operations. For their 10x carbon reduction goal, the company is collaborating with other businesses to measure the carbon savings of specific products.

Information and communication technology could help reduce emissions worldwide. AT&T expects that these types of technology will cut global CO2e 20% by 2030, holding emissions at 2015 levels. The company’s IoT for Good initiative calls for collaborating with tech leaders and customers on smart, connected solutions for reducing emissions.

In a case study AT&T published last December, rice farmers in Arkansas used the IoT to reduce water and lower emissions. The farmers relied on sensors made by tech company PrecisionKing that ran on AT&T’s wireless network.

Sensors read water levels every hour while PrecisionKing monitors remotely turned pumps on and off based on parameters that the farmers had set. The system reduced the farm’s water usage by up to 60% and cut pump energy use by between 20 to 30%, according to the case study.

Recently AT&T came under pressure to commit to 100% renewable energy. Among four major telecommunications companies in the United States — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile — only T-Mobile has joined the RE100 initiative, agreeing to buy enough wind power each year to account for every unit of electricity the company consumes.

AT&T’s targets do call for expanding onsite alternative energy capacity, however. For 2017, that meant expanding to 45 MW, more than doubling that of 2014. The new wind power deal is likely to greatly add to that. An AT&T spokesperson said that updated numbers will be released in June.

Energy management is another key aspect of the company’s environmental strategy. Since 2010, AT&T has rolled out more than 65,000 energy efficiency projects, resulting in annualized savings of $427 million. In 2016 alone, that included 25,000 projects with an annualized savings of $101 million in total.

“It’s important that our sustainability efforts also make sense for the business, and this large-scale renewable purchase is just one part of a broader energy management that has helped realized cost savings for the company,” Carroll told Environmental Leader. “We will continue accelerating our efforts on all fronts.”

The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.

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