Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced yesterday that it would buy as much electricity as the Happy Hereford wind farm could crank out (it’s aiming for 240 megawatts, but isn’t finished yet), according to an article on Quartz. Becoming the plant’s sole customer is an example of the incredible amount of energy needed to power the world’s largest search engine and the company’s commitment to becoming greener.
Google to buy and resell electricity
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) can’t actually send the electricity directly from Happy Hereford to one of its data centers (it’s not illegal, just extremely impractical) so it will buy the electricity and then resell it to the Oklahoma energy market where it has a data center through its subsidiary Google Energy, which is basically a utility company. Since it is adding green energy to the grid, Google can claim carbon deductions as if it had used the energy directly.
Some critics have expressed concerns that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) will drive up energy prices by paying a premium for renewables, but 240 megawatts is insignificant compared to the total energy market. They’d have to ramp up activity by a few orders of magnitude before they made electricity more expensive for the rest of us. But the extra cash could encourage renewable energy companies to target markets where Google has data centers or try to make deals ahead of time.
Google’s other investments
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also put money into other wind farms and a solar thermal plant in southern California, but for an industry that measures consumption in billions of kilowatt hours, energy execs probably are shaking in their boots. Instead of seeing Google as the future of energy producers, it probably makes more sense to see them as an example of what energy-intensive consumers might look like in the future. Instead of simply sitting back and trusting utilities to work everything out, companies that care about where their electricity comes from could get involved on both ends and encourage responsible energy production.
And of course, you could just see this as part of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s attempt to live up to its motto, “Don’t be evil.” Even if you think the expression is pure marketing, it’s nice to see a company put their money where their mouth is on environmental issues.