Google closes in on $1 billion invested in renewable energy

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2012-11-15

Google announced a $75 million equity investment in a 50 megawatt wind farm in Rippey, Iowa today. On its own, perhaps this announcement is dust in the wind to everyone outside Greene County. But this news is just the latest act in Google's continued renewable energy efforts—and it pushes the company's total renewable energy investments to more than $990 million.

Google's energy spending is outlined on the company's Google Green site. The nearly $1 billion covers projects across the globe: Germany, North Dakota, Oregon, California, and (of course) Iowa. The largest check—$280 million—supports a project called SolarCity, which aims to make residential solar projects more accessible. Google's funds will help SolarCity offer up to 8,000 additional customers the option to go through a solar lease or power agreement. That's more than a 50 percent increase for the company; SolarCity completed or is currently building out more than 15,000 residential solar systems. (In the Google agreement, SolarCity helps the customer design their system. Google purchases that up front and then receives a portion of the lease payments going forward.)

Today's Iowa investment goes toward the Rippey project, developed by RPM Access. It will use wind turbines to power more than 15,000 homes. This isn't Google's first green effort in Iowa—the company entered a long-term contract to purchase wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources’ Story County II wind farm in 2010. (Google's Iowa interest stems from a data center it operates in Council Bluffs, Iowa; a little more than two hours away from Rippey.)

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