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Google to Start a Green Utility?

Google is doing a lot these days to help the environment. Now, they have just filed to buy and sale wholesale electricity. Are they looking to enter the utility market?

Google has recently launched software to help track and monitor deforestation, it has coordinated with various environmental organizations and climate activists to give us four great Google Earth climate and rainforest tours on youtube, it is working to create more efficient and cost-effective solar thermal technology, and it has unleashed its PowerMeter energy management software.

Now, there is speculation that Google wants to enter the utility market and help spread renewable energy more quickly.

On December 16, Google created a subsidiary called Google Energy. No, it’s not about the energy you get every time you see one of their great new holiday graphics or find out about another great Google feature. This is about clean, renewable energy for powering our homes, businesses, computers, etc.

This week, Google filed a formal request to the FERC, the federal agency that oversees the US grid, to buy and sell wholesale energy. Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, says that it just wants greater flexibility in buying energy for its own operations. “Right now, we can’t buy affordable, utility-scale, renewable energy in our markets,” she said, and if they could buy and sell energy on the wholesale market that would make it easier for Google to “buy the highest-quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can, and use the green credits [that come with it].”

However, with all of Google’s recent moves in the energy sector, this is making some people think that Google may venture into a role as a green utility in the future.

Google’s “Green Energy Czar”, Bill Weihl, who “is charged with pursuing the company’s stated goal of making renewable energy, through a mix of internal research and external investments, cheaper than coal,” talked with the New York Times recently about Google’s role in the clean energy industry. Although he doesn’t mention specific “Google green utility” plans, he does talk about the company’s investment strategy, which includes putting 10% into “wacky stuff” — things he says people may look at and say, “I don’t see any relationship between that and Google’s business.” but then 5 years later may say, “Whoa, it’s a good thing you guys thought about that.”

Furthermore, he says, “So the stuff we’re doing under the umbrella on alternative energy, some of it doesn’t connect very closely to Google’s core business, some of it does, and that’s O.K.”

So, who knows, a green utility from Google may be around the corner. What do you think, will Google surprise us yet again and start a green utility?

via BusinessGreen & The New York Times

Related Stories:

Google Reveals Plans to Develop More Efficient and Cost-Effective Solar Thermal Technology

Google Earth Climate & Rainforest Tours

Google Earth Shows Climate Change Effects

Google Announces First Utility Partners for New PowerMeter

Image Credits: Connor Treacy via flickr | vaXzine via flickr


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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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