In Search for Renewables, Google Finds More Texas Wind

Texas turbines | Photo: fieldsbh/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The Silicon Valley search engine leader Google has added a very large bit of renewable energy to its portfolio with an agreement to purchase every last watt-hour a huge Texas wind facility produces.

Accrding to a note posted today on the company's blog, Google will buy all the power generated by the 270-megawatt Happy Hereford Wind Farm in the Texas panhandle near Amarillo. No, we're not making that name up.

The power will go to the Southwest Power Pool, the regional grid serving Google's server farm in Mayes County, Oklahoma.

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Slated to start producing power by 2014, the Happy Hereford facility is being built by Chermac Energy, a Native-owned energy company based in Oklahoma. Chermac started out in the southern Plains' lucrative oil and gas business, branching into wind energy well ahead of the curve in 1999.

As Matt Pfile, Google's Senior Manager for Data Center Energy and Location Strategy explains in the post, it's not quite accurate to say that the wind power will directly serve the servers. (Otherwise, ReWire would have come up with a joke about wind-powered cloud storage.)

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.

The agreement nearly doubles Google's wind portfolio, bringing the company's total wind energy contracts so far to 570 megawatts, a nameplate capacity approximately equivalent to a moderately sized coal station.

About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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