Amazon to build wind farm in Benton County

By Brian Gamache

Amazon announced the construction of a 150-megawatt wind farm in northern Indiana last week.

Amazon is partnering with Pattern Energy group to build and operate the farm, which will be located in Benton County, according to a press release.

The project will join several other wind farms operating in the county, according to the county website.

The terms of the deal were not announced in the release.

“Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) will bring a new source of clean energy to the electric grid where we currently operate a large number of data centers and have ongoing expansion plans to support our growing customer base,” said Jerry Hunter, vice president of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services, in the release.

The produced energy will be used to power existing and future Amazon Cloud ?data centers.

The company currently operates a datacenter in South Bend, according to the company’s website.

The announced farm is expected to produce around 500,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually by January 2016.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, that amount of power is equivalent to the needs of 46,000 U.S. homes in a year.

The farm’s construction is part of a larger Amazon initiative to achieve total renewable energy use for its Amazon Web Service Cloud data centers.

Amazon Web Services was launched in 2006 and serves as the cloud arm of the $138 billion company.

The clean energy initiative was announced in November 2014 after a Greenpeace report criticized Amazon’s ?energy use practices.

The report, published in 2012, found that Amazon Web Services used only 14 percent renewable energy to power its data centers.

The report contrasted Amazon with its competitors, with Google using 40 percent renewable energy sources and Facebook using 38 percent renewable resources to power their data centers.

Amazon even lost to Microsoft and Apple, with Microsoft’s cloud using 22 percent clean energy and Apple’s using 23 percent.

After the initiative was announced, Greenpeace responded positively.

“Amazon Web Services’ new commitment to power its operations with 100 percent renewable energy represents a potential breakthrough toward building a green internet,” said Gary Cook, a senior IT campaigner with Greenpeace, in an official statement.

The wind farm project, referred to as a Power Purchase Agreement by Amazon, is a step toward reducing that reliance on dirty energy.

“This PPA helps to increase the renewable energy used to power our infrastructure in the U.S. and is one of many sustainability activities and renewable energy projects for powering our data centers that we currently have in the works,” Hunter said.

This is Amazon’s first investment in wind energy to power its wind farms, according to Greenpeace’s release.

Since 2012, the company has introduced 100 percent renewable resource use and carbon-neutral energy sourcing in several of its markets as part of the initiative.

These markets include Oregon, Germany and AWS GovCloud, an Amazon cloud service designed for the U.S. government.

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