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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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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...


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