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Briefs -- NRG | Microsoft

Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with NRG Energy Inc. executives and dignitaries, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, at an NRG coal-fired generation plant near Houston. The plant has been retrofitted with a commercial-scale carbon capture technology that is providing carbon dioxide (CO2) for a nearby enhanced oil recovery (EOR) application in the West Ranch oilfield. NRG's Petra Nova project was praised by Perry and Abbott as the CEOs from the three companies sponsoring projects looked on -- NRG's Mauricio Gutierrez, JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration Corp.'s Shunsaku Miyake, and Hilcorp Energy Co.'s Jeffery Hildebrand. Hilcorp is using the CO2 captured by the Japanese firm's technology in its EOR operations. Some 90% of the CO2 at the 240 MW WA Parish power plant is captured and shipped to Hilcorp. Three years ago, NRG and JX Nippon announced a joint venture to fund a $1 billion system that would be capable of capturing 1.6 million tons of CO2 from an existing coal-burning unit that would be used for EOR in a legacy field southwest of the power plant.

Microsoft Corp., Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and Washington state regulatory staff, along with seven other parties, reached a sweeping settlement that would allow the global high tech giant to be its own energy supplier while maintaining its commitments to carbon neutrality. If approved by the three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), Microsoft will be allowed to reach its carbon neutrality and renewable energy goals while the state makes progress on pushing renewables and protecting low-income energy utility customers. Under the settlement, Microsoft and PSE have a new contract under which the tech company can obtain its own energy from the wholesale market as long as Microsoft buys only carbon neutral/renewable energy resources, maintains its contribution to PSE's energy efficiency program, and pays a $23.6 million transition fee that the Bellevue, WA-based combination utility would return to its customers. Last October, PSE filed a tariff with the UTC to create new retail service for large industrial/commercial customers like Microsoft.

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