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Google yesterday gained federal authority to buy and sell power in the U.S., granting it essentially the same status as a power utility. Google's headquarters is seen here blanketed in solar panels.  (Source: Goozner Solar)

Google could eventually use the approval to sell renewable energy directly to U.S. consumers.  (Source: Wind Revolution)
Traditional power utilities have a new competitor

The world of power utilities in the U.S. is a story of old business.  The corporate landscape is almost as stale as America's power grid -- there's little fresh blood.  

That could soon change.  Adding to the shakeup that began earlier this week with President Obama's decision to back new U.S. nuclear construction with guaranteed loan funding, Google yesterday received approval [PDF] by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to become an open market seller and buyer of energy.

While the decision of Google to enter the power business may seem a strange one, it actually makes sense.  The search business (as well as Google's numerous other services) require vast farms of servers to power billions of requests worldwide.  These data centers using a tremendous amount of power.  Thus it's in Google's best interest to try to ensure reliable, affordable power.

Google also will look to use its newfound abilities to make good on its motto "do no evil" by adopting power from renewable sources.  Thanks to the approval, the company can now directly buy power from renewable energy installation, rather than having to purchase it second-hand through a utility.

The company, which has invested in numerous alternative energy projects of its own, could even enter the power production business eventually.  In its application Google requested the authority to "act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers."

In the short term, Google has "no plans" to sell power according to Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick, speaking to 
The Wall Street Journal last month.  She states in a recent email, "We made this filing so we can have more flexibility in procuring power for Google's own operations, including our data centers.  FERC authority will improve our ability to hedge our purchases of energy and incorporate renewables into our energy portfolio."

The company's foremost objective is carbon neutrality -- emitting no more carbon than it takes in.  Google has already employed diverse means to achieve this goal.  It has used goats to mow the lawns of its California facilities and has invested in unusual sources of alternative energy, such as deep geothermal and high energy wind power.

Google currently has no wholesale electrical generation or transmission facilities according to its filing.

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Google's Intentions...
By UsernameX on 2/19/2010 10:52:55 AM , Rating: 4
Their actions may be better then most, but how many of you honestly believe that Google means no evil?

RE: Google's Intentions...
By StevoLincolnite on 2/19/2010 11:14:19 AM , Rating: 5
how many of you honestly believe that Google means no evil?

"Google it" and find out? :P

RE: Google's Intentions...
By TSS on 2/19/2010 11:11:47 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah i honestly belive google means no evil.

I also honestly belive that they still do evil from time to time. As everybody does. Their record, however, has so far been better then most so thats why i still support them. If they start doing too much evil, even if their intentions are good, i'll switch back to MS or a future competitor.

On that note, i thought they where already in the "power" market? ^^

RE: Google's Intentions...
By geddarkstorm on 2/19/2010 2:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone makes mistakes, corporations and people; but have to give them props for making that mentality a priority -- keeping it on their minds whenever they make decisions. It's a stark contrast to many businesses, like Apple.

As long as they are genuinely sincere about that policy, and do what they can to enforce it, and make amends when they trip, they'll be in a whole league of their own when it comes to moral responsibility and business practice. Just goes to show too, as they become bigger and bigger by leaps and bounds and extend their fingers into more and more pies; that this mentality is superior to the draconian self destructiveness of other businesses.

Even with all that said, it's us consumers who have to help keep Google in line over the years, as it's all too easy for any one with power to fall and then use their "do no evil" as a smoke screen.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By invidious on 2/21/2010 1:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
Only an evil entity would be concerned about convincing others that it is not evil.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By Etsp on 2/21/2010 5:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
Only a sith deals in absolutes.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By drmo on 2/22/2010 8:19:21 AM , Rating: 2
By saying "only", doesn't that make the statement an absolute? :P

RE: Google's Intentions...
By Etsp on 2/22/2010 1:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it's quite an ironic statement, especially since a Jedi said it...

RE: Google's Intentions...
By Schrag4 on 2/19/2010 12:16:12 PM , Rating: 3
I used to have a pretty poor image of Google because of their role in helping the Chinese government suppress free speech, but I guess they're changing things, or at least claim to be:

Granted, I realize there are other US corporations that do the same thing. I also realize that, according to the link, it took cyber attacks from China for Google to change their minds. I guess my current image of Google is that they're "reluctantly deciding whether to do slightly less evil" now.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By machop on 2/19/10, Rating: -1
RE: Google's Intentions...
By geddarkstorm on 2/19/2010 2:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
What the heck are you on about person? How does any of that have ANYTHING to do with the post you are replying to? I smell troll.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By cmdrdredd on 2/21/10, Rating: 0
RE: Google's Intentions...
By ncage on 2/19/2010 1:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
Most of these "google is evil" discussions are just freakn stupid. Ok google is a company and as a company some of the major obligations are to make MORE money and to their stockholers. If google brings you 100MB internet to your house are you going to bitch? Sure that will probably make google more money. Maybe you will start to use free web apps (because of the speed improvements) but it allows google to obtain more information about you which will help them further refine their advertisements. I think for what it is google has done a pretty good damn job. Again are you going to bitch if they cut your power bill in half or have some type of web automated system that allows you to monitor and save when/how you use power. I know i'm not going to.

It happens to every company i they grow people just start to think they have to much control and are evil. If you want to look at a evil company look at something like comcast.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By Schrag4 on 2/19/2010 2:18:45 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think anyone here is asserting that Google is any less or any more evil than other corporations. I think the thing that bothers most of us is Google's own "holier-than-thou" assertions, as evidenced by their motto. They just seem smug to me, personally, and in my opinion they've done things that go beyond simply trying to make a buck (which isn't inherently evil). Specifically, agreeing to do business in China under the condition that they censor searches. They claim that providing censored search helps the citizens more than simply not having google, but it just doesn't feel right to me. I would support a merely greedy business before I supported one that helps a goverment deny its citizens the truth about their own history, no matter how less-greedy that business may be.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By armulyman on 2/20/2010 6:47:26 PM , Rating: 1
Everyone seems to hate Google, screaming "1984!", and "Google hates Republifags!"

Well look at it this way: Corporations are considered to be a person under the law, and by every definition, they are psychotic persons. The experience no guilt, the have no moral values, they have no sense of right and wrong, and they do whatever is pleasurable for them in that moment(they do anything they can to make as much money as quickly as possible.)

Google however is trying to break this tradition, and do the right things. They want to use clean energy, they're reducing the time in which they store private information, they DON'T censor unless they are forced to (And they're considering stopping that). When the Feds came through and asked for user search info, they were the ONLY search engine that resisted.

So they don't advertise guns? So what? That doesn't mean they're against the right to own a gun, it just means that they feel advertising them may promote violence.

I'll probably be rated down for this, but honestly, look at the facts and stop being paranoid. I for one feel blessed that we have such a corporation around. So many others do so many terrible things.

RE: Google's Intentions...
By cmdrdredd on 2/21/2010 8:29:51 PM , Rating: 2
So they don't advertise guns? So what? That doesn't mean they're against the right to own a gun, it just means that they feel advertising them may promote violence.

That's like saying advertising victoria's secret models will lead to young girls becoming bolemic.

Advertising something does not advocate ill effects from it. If it did, you couldn't advertise cars because you'd be promoting auto accidents *gasp*.

Google to do more evil...
By TheEinstein on 2/19/2010 2:40:18 PM , Rating: 1
No one here seems to understand... Google IS evil.

1) They will not show ads for guns, period, nor will you find their spiders on very many gun sites.

2) They down-rate pages of the opposition party to their party. Yes they ascribe entirely to one political party. Guess which.

3) They censor in China and other nations of course...

4) They use their huge data files on your searches to tailor information presented to you in a 1984 style.. you never see it, you never feel it, but it IS happening.

RE: Google to do more evil...
By geddarkstorm on 2/19/2010 2:52:50 PM , Rating: 4
Then use another search engine.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/19/2010 3:19:22 PM , Rating: 2
They use it extensively in Gmail. Anything you discuss in your emails they present ads for in the right hand column. It is fun to email some crazy stuff and watch it try to post the right ads for your conversation.

RE: Google to do more evil...
By armulyman on 2/20/2010 6:28:48 PM , Rating: 2
3) They censor in China and other nations of course...

HOLY CRAP, really?! Do you read the freaking news Einstein? Do you have any idea WHY they censor in China? Have you NOT been hearing that they are talking about pulling out of China because they don't like being forced to censor?!

Genius....! Pure uninformed genius!

RE: Google to do more evil...
By foolsgambit11 on 2/20/2010 6:42:24 PM , Rating: 5
Point by point:

1. I just did a search for "Colt .45" and got sidebar ads for retailers of guns.

2. Evidence?

3. They abided by the law in China. Granted, they could have just chosen not to do business there. But this doesn't make them evil, it makes them capitalists. Google entering China's search market didn't make things worse for the Chinese - they weren't getting the censored search results as it was. Maybe they weren't being good, but they weren't being evil, either.

4. They provide tailored search results (not by individual, but by general statistics) in an attempt to better serve you, and you equate this to neo-fascism. Again, you don't base anything on facts or data, you just accuse. Perhaps they could do evil things with all the data they collect, but there's no evidence they currently are.

I'm not saying that Google is good. I'm just saying that you're going to need some better ammunition. Their motto is "Don't Be Evil", it's not "Be Good". There is a distinction.

RE: Google to do more evil...
By rlandess on 2/21/2010 1:52:48 AM , Rating: 2
No one here seems to understand... Google IS evil.

No, You don't understand. No one wants to hear the self-important whining of an imbecile. Too many people lately complain about how no one understands what they are talking about. If feel badly that you're the only one who knows the Truth, maybe you should step back and reconsider your position. This forum is usually filled with above average intellects, if the general consensus in the forum is disparate with your opinion maybe you're defective. Maybe you should find a forum that appreciates unsubstantiated, overly emotional hearsay.

I'd love to rate you down, but it's your kind of insane delusional ranting that illuminates for the masses what's going wrong with the world. So everyone should read it.

Every forum doesn't have to be diverted to being your outlet for list of paranoid grievances about conspiracy.

Wingnuts right and left, pull your heads out of your asses and take a deep breath. We don't live in a Orwell novel, more an Aldous Huxley novel, or a Mike Judge movie. People have free will. If you don't like being spied on, don't leave your house or converse with anyone, ever. What you do in you own home is still your own business so you still have it pretty good.

Who cares about Google storing search information. Their not stealing it, you give it to them. It's your choice, if Google has a file on you it's your fault.

RE: Google to do more evil...
By MadMan007 on 2/21/2010 5:59:53 PM , Rating: 1
I don't understand what you're talking about.

RE: Google to do more evil...
By callmeroy on 2/22/2010 8:59:46 AM , Rating: 2

1) They don't show ads for guns...oh no I'm offended a public company has their own policy that they don't wish to run ads for something they don't believe in. Nothing illegal about that. Nothing wrong with that. If I opened a business tomorrow and my policy was "We will not run ads for pornography sites or products"...its the same deal, my right as the business owner.

2) You got me there -- sounds like you spend WAY more time and energy using the search engine and scouring political forums than I do (meaning I don't - I have other things to worry about during my free time). That all sad..I would be curious of the proof you have of this practice.

3) Whoopidy doo dah....

4) 1984 style - you mean there's another "style" to harvesting and collecting data based on searches and information like email that the user agrees to when they sign up for the account in the first place? Tell me WTF do you think these search companies do? Yahoo. Bing. Google. They all do this that's the business model. That's how it works, how do you think the searches are created for accuracy. How do you think they make money - you think the advertisers they pick are just random?

Anyone who uses FREE on-line applications, like web based email, or search engines and then are surprised that certain demographic data is being collected -- that just friggin amazes me.

NOTHING is truly free.

Google is a project..
By Oranuro on 2/19/2010 5:24:21 PM , Rating: 2

I've been saying this for some years now that Google is 100% government operations.

RE: Google is a project..
By mindless1 on 2/19/2010 6:51:57 PM , Rating: 5
Impossible, they're making a profit.

RE: Google is a project..
By callmeroy on 2/22/2010 9:04:19 AM , Rating: 2
Sad but true....I don't see our recession in the states ending at all during Obama's term....which I fully don't expect him to see a 2nd term....not over 10% unemployment and no sign in site of any consistent economic recovery happening for at least the duration of this year.

Wrong Logo at the Top of the Page
By jbwhite99 on 2/19/2010 11:09:04 AM , Rating: 2
Jason, you should "google" an Enron logo to put up there - when I hear about companies trading power, this is what comes to mind.

Actually, I think this will do 2 things - it will drive more efficiency in power, and hopefully upgrade the power lines in this country. We lose a lot of power to inefficient lines - this is where T Boone Pickens ran across problems with his big windmill plans in the plains.

RE: Wrong Logo at the Top of the Page
By pequin06 on 2/19/2010 11:55:29 AM , Rating: 2
Enron came to my mind too, along with their collapse.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/19/2010 3:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, Enron round two.

Law of conservation of...
By ymboc on 2/19/2010 11:38:07 AM , Rating: 2
carbon neutrality -- emitting no more carbon than it takes in

RE: Law of conservation of...
By Protagonist42 on 2/19/2010 11:51:18 AM , Rating: 2

<3 competition
By Shig on 2/19/2010 10:56:46 AM , Rating: 2
+1 competition

+1 microgrids

By sigilscience on 2/21/2010 2:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
Google has used goats to mow the lawns of its California facilities
You mean, like they used to do all through the Middle Ages? What a lovely, lovely example to set. What other technologies should a leading tech company give up? How about we all give up daily hot showers to save energy too? And wearing our clothes all week before we wash them would help even more.

What a farce. What's even funnier is I bet when you add up all the fuel and energy Google used to transport and care for those goats, it was probably ten times what a lawn mower would have used...and that doesn't even count the methane that came out the goat's rear ends!

Not really environmental?
By Danger D on 2/22/2010 9:55:56 AM , Rating: 2
Google buying directly from the solar company doesn’t increase the amount of renewable energy being produced. It simply gives Google public credit for using that power rather than having it dispersed to all utility customers.

Am I missing something or is this nothing more than a PR move so they can say they’re “renewable?” Are they paying more for the solar power? That’s the only way I could see this being some sort of environmental altruism. Seems like they’d be paying less, though, since they’re buying directly from the source.

I’m not saying it’s evil; it’s just morally neutral. A business decision. Lowers utility bills, provides positive PR opportunities, period.

Done and done
By JonnyDough on 2/19/10, Rating: 0
"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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