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Apple takes a bite out of emissions with $848 million solar deal

In October, Apple‘s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson told a GreenBiz audience that the Silicon Valley tech giant is “swinging for the fences” on sustainability and renewable power.

On Tuesday, Apple made good on Jackson’s promise — and then some — by announcing the largest commercial purchase of solar power ever with an $848 million deal with First Solar to buy the electricity generated from a huge solar farm the equipment firm is building in California.

“We know at Apple that climate change is real, and our view is that the time for talk has passed and the time for action is now,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told an investor audience at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.

Adding that Apple already powers all of its data centers with renewable energy and is building a state-of-the-art green headquarters (albeit one removed from public transit) in Silicon Valley, he went on to describe the details of the plan.

“Just today we’re announcing our biggest, boldest and most ambitious project ever, partnering with First Solar to build a solar farm, in Monterey County, not too far from here,” he said. “It’s 1300 acres. It’s enough power for almost 60,000 California homes, and it’s enough to provide renewable energy for all of our new campus,” as well as all its other California offices, a large data center and the 52 Apple retail stores in the state.

Apple already owns the largest private solar facility in the country in North Carolina and is building another solar farm in Arizona. The company also has invested in wind, fuel cells and hydropower.

The tech company expects to draw 130 megawatts a year from the First Solar farm in Monterey, while another 150 megawatts will be sent to the grid of Pacific Gas & Electric, Northern California’s utility. In all the farm covers 2,900 acres, First Solar said, and should be completed in 2016. Work is slated to begin in a few months.


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