To: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
I’m an energy expert, a longtime Amazon customer, and an ardent company supporter. As such I’ve read with great interest some breathless press releases about your recent procurement into the NC Desert Wind project.
Due to your careful management Amazon is now a large, successful company, that has made many good economic decisions. During your tenure, the company has publicly portrayed itself as not only environmentally sensitive, but also concerned for the national welfare. All this makes Amazon’s involvement with the Desert Wind project quite puzzling.
After you were approached by Iberdrola to partner with them, one would assume that you utilized a battery of lawyers on your payroll to do a thorough due-diligence on the Desert Wind project — what is apparently “Amazon’s largest renewable energy project to date.” Here are some facts that question the wisdom of Amazon’s subsequent decision to go forward:
Fact #1 – Iberdrola originally made three separate sales pitches to sell the electricity from this project to the NC utility companies: Duke, Dominion, and Progress.
Interestingly, each one separately declined Iberdrola’s solicitation. In each case the reason given was that the cost was uneconomical.
Following that, Iberdrola reportedly complained to the NC Governor at the time, Beverly Perdue. She then wrote a pointed letter to the CEOs of each of those three companies, pressuring them to them to reconsider. To their credit, after a second evaluation, each of the three utility companies again declined to participate with the Desert Wind project.
Is Amazon really smarter about electricity economics than the first and third largest utility companies in the US — who carefully checked out and then rejected involvement with this project because it did not make economic sense?
Fact #2 – For years now, Amazon has gone to great lengths to convey the impression that they are a champion of the environment. From packaging to drone delivery, the mantra is that “Amazon is environmentally sensitive.”
Why would Amazon partner in a huge 20,000± acre industrial project that has had absolutely no independent environmental assessment? None. In fact Iberdrola strenuously objected when NC-DENR asked for one.
Fact #3 – In a similar vein, Amazon has communicated that security is a top priority to them. For example, you have gone to great lengths to protect the personal information of your customers.
Why would Amazon participate in a major development that is a known substantial national security risk (e.g. see this 30 page report)? If Amazon is genuinely interested in their customer’s security, why would they invest in a business that degrades our country’s protection from terrorists, drug traffickers, unfriendly nations, climate change, etc?
It seems that there are two possible explanations for this strange situation:
a) Amazon failed to do a proper due diligence, and instead unduly relied on the assurances of Iberdrola that there was nothing to worry about.
b) Amazon was fully aware of these serious economic, environmental and security liabilities, and decided that the benefits of greenwashing, exceeded those liabilities.
I’m hoping that the answer is “a” and that on further investigation Amazon will immediately disassociate itself from this problematic venture.
john droz, jr.
Morehead City, NC