Perhaps the "G" in "Google" should stand for "green" because it's clear the company is a big supporter of the environmental movement. The Google Green site/FAQ is an obvious indicator of said support. More recently, news about one of Google's latest investments demonstrates the commitment. This time, however, in a more specific manner, as opposed to simply issuing a manifesto of the company's goals.
Another way to look at it, now that Google has functional maps of the world, the oceans, the moon and the stars, they are turning their attention to harnessing the power of the most prominent star in our collective lives,
the Death Star the sun, of course. No, Google isn't buying Britain's ever-popular gossip mag/newspaper, although, the contextual ads for Page 3 would be fun. Instead, Google is investing in a company that specializes in harnessing the power of the sun, as they further the drive to reduce the footprint, as well as the cost of living, for homeowners who are actively seeking alternate methods of providing power to their dwelling.
To facilitate the push for cleaner energy, Google has partnered with SolarCity, a company that, like the name suggests, focuses on bringing solar power to the people. Google's contribution comes in the way of financial support, to the tune of $280 million. For comparison's sake, President Obama pledged $250 million to the smart grid project, 30 million less than Google's investment into solar power. Do with that knowledge what you will.
Google's blog entry has more on their partnership with SolarCity:
Today, we’re announcing that we’ve investing $280 million to create a fund that will help SolarCity finance more solar installations across the country. This is our largest clean energy project investment to date and brings our total invested in the clean energy sector to more than $680 million. We've also launched a partnership to offer SolarCity services to Googlers at a discount.
A Google engineer, Michael Flaster, was apparently the inspiration for Google's interest into SolarCity. According to the information provided, Flaster, an active solar power user/SolarCity customer, stands to save $100 a month on his energy bills. Over the life of Flaster's lease of SolarCity's equipment, he could save an estimated $16,000, an idea I'm sure most homeowners would get behind.
As indicated, SolarCity offers an equipment leasing program, of which, Google has more details:
In SolarCity’s innovative financing model, the company covers installation and maintenance of the system over the life of the lease. You can prepay, or pay nothing upfront after which you make monthly solar lease payments.
There's also a promotional video leading this post, highlighting some of the benefits of solar energy. Does anyone think it's telling that Google invested more in this particular project than the U.S. Government did in updating the country's aging energy grid?