Hailing it as the company’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious project ever,” Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a landmark deal with the United States’ biggest solar developer on Tuesday.
It seems only fitting that Apple, Inc. – the world’s largest company by market capitalization (currently valued at over $700 billion) – would strike the largest commercial power deal in history. The multinational has committed $848 million to purchasing power from First Solar’s California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County.
Construction on the 2,900 acre solar farm will begin in mid-2015 and plans to be completed by the end of next year (the 30 percent solar investment tax credit will expire in 2017). Apple will receive 130 megawatts from the farm, enough to power 60,000 California homes.
“Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Joe Kishkill, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar, in a press release. “Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California. Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact.”
In the three years since succeeding Steve Jobs as Apple’s chief exec, Tim Cook has boosted the company’s reliance on renewables three-fold. Today, 75 percent of Apple’s worldwide facilities run on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
Cook has also been a vocal advocate of climate change. Last year, Cook famously told off a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank and Apple shareholder, for telling him to stop investing in environmental initiatives that didn’t profit the company.
“We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are,” said Cook. “That’s who we are as a company. […] When I think about making our products accessible for the people that can’t see or to help a kid with autism, I don’t think about a bloody ROI, and by the same token, I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view.”
If the NCPPR or any other shareholder had a problem with that, Cook said, “then you should get out of the stock.”
Bloomberg reports that minutes after Apple announced its solar deal on Tuesday, shares of both Apple and First Solar soared.