Google gets US approval to buy and sell energy

The company says it wants easier access to renewable energy to power its operations

Google has received federal approval to buy and sell energy on the open market, giving it more options for the way it powers its data centers and opening the door to a potential move into the energy-trading business.

Google applied for the authorization last December through a wholly owned subsidiary called Google Energy. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved its application Thursday, granting Google "market-based rate authorization," or the authority to buy and sell energy on a wholesale basis.

"We made this filing so we can have more flexibility in procuring power for Google's own operations, including our data centers," Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said via e-mail.

Data centers are big consumers of energy and Google operates several large facilities around the world -- it hasn't disclosed exactly how many. That makes ensuring a steady supply of affordable energy critical to running its business.

Google has also said it is committed to being "carbon neutral," in part by using as much renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, as possible. "FERC authority will improve our ability to hedge our purchases of energy and incorporate renewables into our energy portfolio," Fenwick said.

She declined to elaborate, but the company told the Wall Street Journal last month that FERC approval would allow it to approach producers of renewable energy directly to buy power for its operations.

The authorization also raises the prospect that Google may start to buy and sell energy as a business. Its application asked that Google Energy be able to "act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers."

Google didn't respond to a question about that Thursday. Fenwick told the Journal last month that the company has "no plans" to become an energy trader or to sell energy services, but she also acknowledged that the company was "not sure" how it planned to proceed.

FERC's notice shows that the California Public Utilities Commission filed a motion to intervene in the application. It was unclear what concerns the Commission had, if any, and a Commission spokesman could not immediately comment.

The approval is effective Feb. 23, as Google requested. The company told FERC it does not own or control any wholesale electrical generation or transmission facilities, so the agency determined that Google does not have "market power" or the ability to create barriers to entry.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Google

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?