Google wants to buy, sell electricity in US

Jan 08, 2010
People pictured at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 5. Internet search giant Google is seeking government authority to buy and sell electricity in the United States, a further expansion of its operations aimed at boosting renewable energy.

Internet search giant Google is seeking government authority to buy and sell electricity in the United States, a further expansion of its operations aimed at boosting renewable energy.

In a document filed last month with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and obtained by AFP, Google indicated that its Google Energy unit asked for "market-based rate authority."

Under that authority, "Google Energy will engage in wholesale electric power and energy transactions as a marketer," the filing said.

The move marked an additional step by the California-based Internet giant to reduce its carbon footprint.

Google announced in 2007 that it would invest in . It has already launched a free software, PowerMeter, that allows individuals and businesses to monitor their energy consumption.

The company in mid-December pledged on its blog "Going green at Google" that it was going to make its operations carbon-neutral and reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman, told specialist website CNET that the company wanted to become a player on the power grid.

"Right now, we can't buy affordable, utility-scale, renewable energy in our markets," Fenwick said.

"We want to buy the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can and use the green credits," she said.

"We don't have any concrete plans. We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio."

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User comments : 21

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Phelankell
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2010
Is it starting to make sense yet? Corporate interests run the government. Google is no different than Shell or Exxon.
keithinsf
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2010
It's pretty disheartening to hear the people that control our access to the info that could get us off of the grid are planning on getting into the grid business.
x646d63
3.8 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2010
One of Google's largest expenses is electricity to run its data centers. It makes perfect sense for them to become wholesalers of electricity.
Phelankell
4.7 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2010
One of Google's largest expenses is electricity to run its data centers. It makes perfect sense for them to become wholesalers of electricity.

No, it would make perfect sense for them to generate their own electricity and feed the grid for a credit.

Becomming a wholesaler means they're going to begin having other companies depend on them for their power needs. It's not a reasonable jump. If that article said Microsoft rather than Google I'm sure there'd be many more people who'd be displeased to read it.
Alburton
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2010
There are many ideas for upgrading Power efficiency that need the datamining abilities google can offer,so hooray!
purringrumba
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2010
There are many ideas for upgrading Power efficiency that need the datamining abilities google can offer,so hooray!

Exactly. Google has demonstrated that they are master of collecting vast amount of unlocalized diffuse information, analyzing it, and finding patterns. Managing electrical power distribution efficiently could be a similar problem that can be solved by Google's core competence:

- Profiling who uses how much electrical power, when
- Then matching these dynamically changing demand with various available sources of electrical power
bfast
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2010
First cell phones, and now electricity. Google's diversification scares me. In my opinion Google would do well to keep focused on what it is -- the most effective internet marketing company ever.
cyborge
not rated yet Jan 08, 2010
If they become good at it, let them take on the challenge. More consumer options are better for the marketplace. As long as their services are monitored by industry watchdogs and they don't turn into an Enron. I am surprised Walmart didn't think of it.
Paul123
Jan 08, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Phelankell
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2010
Managing electrical power distribution efficiently could be a similar problem that can be solved by Google's core competence:

- Profiling who uses how much electrical power, when
- Then matching these dynamically changing demand with various available sources of electrical power
Then bring them on as advisors, not commercial wholesalers.

GE codes industry leading Healthcare software. I don't want them performing surgery based on that competancy.
Bob_Kob
5 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2010
First cell phones, and now electricity. Google's diversification scares me. In my opinion Google would do well to keep focused on what it is -- the most effective internet marketing company ever.


This is perhaps why google has survived when many other internet companies have failed.
Parsec
5 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2010
This is a free country. I believe that people and companies should be able to enter and/or leave any marketplace without government interference.

Google has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they are entering this business. But if the reason was to simply make as much money as possible, that who is to say they can't or shouldn't do this?

Google will do well here, just like it has done excellently in every market it has entered. This is a combination of extreme competence, attention to detail, and deliberate and careful action.
kasen
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2010
"We want to buy the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can and use the green credits,"

Two things here. First, if they want to go green, why not actually build/sponsor their own renewable power sources, instead of steering the entire market in that direction? Secondly, what's with the green credits? Some carbon trading scheme?

It seems to me they want all the green glory and credits, with as little responsibility as possible. As long as they're buying energy that's declared carbon neutral, they don't have to give a damn about how it's actually obtained, with what efficiency, or with what other environmental costs.
thingumbobesquire
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2010
It is becoming obvious with this announcement and the piece from a Google bigwig in the latest Nature rag that states that they want to control the quality of information in searches in the future that this is quite the neo-fascist outfit.
Phelankell
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2010
This is a free country. I believe that people and companies should be able to enter and/or leave any marketplace without government interference.

Who said anything about government interference?

If Google wants to generate electricity then I'm ok with it. If they want to start selling electricity to control and direct public policy, then I'll stop using their products.
jrob81
5 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2010
Google is planning for the future, we know oil is going to run out in our life time.

The smartest thing a 21st century company can do is invest in the new energy of the future by investing in renewable energy. They're simply positioning them selves to be ahead of the curve when crunch time hits!
John_balls
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2010
This is a free country. I believe that people and companies should be able to enter and/or leave any marketplace without government interference.


Who said anything about government interference?

If Google wants to generate electricity then I'm ok with it. If they want to start selling electricity to control and direct public policy, then I'll stop using their products.


Based on this ideology you must not use gas and take a biycle to work.
Paradox
not rated yet Jan 09, 2010
This is a free country. I believe that people and companies should be able to enter and/or leave any marketplace without government interference.


Who would there be to stop monopolies if there was no government interference?
abhishekbt
2 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2010
"We don't have any concrete plans. We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio."


Are you kidding me? Knowing Google, they would have a concrete 5 year plan by now and a well thought out 10 year strategy with budget allocations.

Google is Google today because of its ability to look into the future. They would have been mulling with the idea for atleast a year before they decided to go public with this. Not that I have any problems though.
Phelankell
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2010
Who would there be to stop monopolies if there was no government interference?

We The People. Businesses require customers to function. Stop paying them and they'll change pretty quickly.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2010
I'm fascinated that so many people are upset about an American company promoting efficiency. If a global powerhouse like Google invests itself in renewable energy, that puts a lot of political clout AGAINST big oil companies that tend to be timing their renewable energy advances conveniently in line with diminishing economical supply
kirel
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2010
One of Google's largest expenses is electricity to run its data centers. It makes perfect sense for them to become wholesalers of electricity.

No, it would make perfect sense for them to generate their own electricity and feed the grid for a credit.


I'm quite sure that there is an easily identifiable point (based on simple parameters like cost or power generation) where selling back to the grid is far more inefficient than just becoming a standalone entity.

I, for one, prefer steps to be taken for improving conditions when reasonably possible.
NameIsNotNick
Jan 17, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.