It's no wonder that utilities are beginning to rethink the traditional business model.

Originally reported by The Guardian, and just posted over at TreeHugger, Microsoft is borrowing from the playbook of its biggest competitors, buying up the entire electricity output for the next 20 years from a 110-megawatt wind farm to be built 70 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas.

In a world where Apple owns a gigantic solar farm, and Google is pouring money into renewables, this move from Microsoft is not exactly a surprise, but it is worthy of note. Microsoft has previously focused its clean energy efforts on purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from existing wind farms. This strategy, while helping the bottom line for renewables providers somewhat, has been questioned by environmental groups like Greenpeace that have been skeptical about how much new green energy generation it encourages.

The new move, which involved committing in advance to buying the proposed wind farm's entire output, was welcomed by Gary Cook, technology campaigner for Greenpeace, as a major step forward. Here's how he described its significance to The Guardian:

"They haven't broken any new ground for the industry, but they have broken new ground for Microsoft," he said. "If they are using the windfarm to increase the amount of renewable energy in the electricity supply chain, that is a great investment and will continue to drive more renewable energy investment onto the grid if they continue down that path."
If the article is anything to go by, there will be more big sustainability announcements to come from Microsoft in the very near future. In the race to curb climate change, competition may be a very, very good thing.

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