Google Inks Another Big Wind Energy Deal In Texas

Chris CrumTechnology

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Google announced today that it has inked a deal with the Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. Google is purchasing the farm's entire output, calling it part of its quest to power its operations 100% with renewable energy.

The wind farm is expected to start producing energy late next year, and is being developed by Oklahoma-based Chermac Energy. It will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool, which serves Google's Mayes County, Oklahoma data center, the company says.

This is only the latest in a series of renewable energy moves from Google. Back in 2007, Google announced it would put hundreds of millions of dollars into a “strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal.” This included eSolar and Makani Power, which Google went ahead and acquired a few months ago.

Earlier this year, Google put $200 million into the Spinning Spur Wind Project in Texas. This is also near Amarillo. At the time, Google shared this infographic about investing in clean energy:

Investing in clean energy

At that point, Google had already made ten other renewable energy investments since 2010. Last year, for example, the company announced an agreement with the Grand River Damn Authority to green the energy supply to its Oklahoma data center, including 48 MW of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project in Oklahoma. It also announced an investment in Green County, Iowa in 2012.

"The structure of this agreement is similar to our earlier commitments in Iowa and Oklahoma," says Google's senior manager of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy, Matt Pfile, of the new agreement. "Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it. After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere."

"This type of power purchase agreement represents one of several ways we’re working to make additional renewable energy available for both our data centers and the communities in which we operate," Pfile adds. "In Scandinavia, due to the region’s unified power market and grid system, we’re able to purchase wind energy in Sweden and directly consume it at our Hamina, Finland data center. We’re also working with our local utility partners to develop new options."

Google says it will continue to work with utility providers and collaborate with industry regulators to pursue "creative agreements" like that with the Happy Hereford farm.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Image: Google (This is the future site of the wind farm).

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.