Texas purchase marks Google’s biggest energy deal yet

Google keeps getting greener.

In its largest energy-industry deal so far, the Internet behemoth is buying the output of a future North Texas wind farm that will be about half the size of its current renewable power production.

Google said in its official blog Tuesday it made a deal with Chermac Energy Corp. for a 240-megawatt wind farm near Amarillo, Texas, and that the purchase continues its bid to run its large data centers completely on renewable energy.

Google doesn’t have a specific timeline to reach its renewable energy goal, and it faces a host of challenges, from strict regulatory environments in foreign countries where it operates, to higher costs and lower qualities of renewable power across the globe, said Gary Demasi, Google’s director of global infrastructure.

However, “It’s an aspirational goal that we put a tremendous amount of effort and funding behind,” Demasi said in an interview. It’s something the company is racing to keep up with as Google keeps growing, he added.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but with more than $1 billion in renewable energy investments since 2010, Google has become the most significant player in energy outside of the industry and big banks. So far, the company has lassoed about 570 megawatts of renewable energy, which is enough to power about 285,000 Texas homes during normal conditions and about 114,000 during peak power demand.

Like financial institutions, Google has become a player in the wholesale electricity market, empowered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell power that it generates.

The wind farm, expected to go online in late 2014, will produce power for a grid in Oklahoma that serves one of the company’s data centers.

In January, Google invested $200 million in another Texas wind farm, also near Amarillo.


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