Citing the need to power its expanding data center in Reno, this week Apple announced a partnership with state utility NV Power — which will result in an additional 200 megawatts of solar power in northern Nevada.
Although a location has not yet been announced, both parties say the new solar plants will be in operation by early 2019.
The commitment in Nevada is part of what Apple claims to be an embrace of renewables. Late last year, the tech giant announced from China that it had made its first investments in wind power, which the company described as a partnership with the Chinese government to wean the country off fossil fuels such as coal.
Apple already has a reputation as an active investor, and even broker, of solar power. Last fall the company joined the global clean energy initiative RE100, central to what Apple says is its goal to run its entire global operations on renewables.
The agreement is also a shot in the arm for NV Energy as it strives to boost its renewables portfolio in the Silver State. The company says it already manages 491 megawatts of solar power capacity in the state of 2.8 million people, with another 529 megawatts of solar either under construction or under regulatory review. NV Energy says a total of 1.9 gigawatts of energy in Nevada is generated by sources such as geothermal, hydropower, a wind power farm and several small biomass projects.
But not everyone in Nevada’s business community has a smooth working relationship with NV Energy, which is why the Apple agreement could be the first step in repairing its reputation with many of the state’s largest companies.
Companies such as MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts claim they pulled the plug from NV Energy because of excessive costs. As the Las Vegas Sun reported last fall, after a year of negotiations and a search for an alternative energy provider, both companies together paid over $100 million in fees to sever their ties with the utility.
MGM and Wynn insisted the move was necessary in order to save on energy costs, as well as to increase the amount of power that they could source from renewables. On that point, MGM has already set the standard for renewables investment in Nevada with the massive solar array it installed on top of its Mandalay Bay property in Las Vegas.
But back to Reno: This newest solar project financed by Apple is another small step in what the tech company describes as its effort to mitigate climate change risks. Apple says its investments in renewables amount to 4 gigawatts total worldwide, which will prevent the emissions of 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2020, or the equivalent of removing 6 million cars from roads each year.
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