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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*.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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