34 Comments

Summary:

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Google’s application to buy and sell energy, after much speculation over whether it would. Will Google act as a utility, and will it disrupt energy markets?

When word broke last month that Google had created a subsidiary called “Google Energy,” which was looking to buy and sell electricity on federally regulated wholesale markets, the Internet and energy industries alike were confounded. If Google got approved to buy and sell energy, what exactly would the search engine do? Well, the issue is no longer one of speculation — the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Google’s application to buy and sell energy, reports PC World.

Despite the speculation — or fear — that Google could act as a utility one day, buying and selling electricity at will, Google has clearly stated why it says it wants to achieve “market-based rate authorization.” Google’s Niki Fenwick told us last month that Google has no plans to become an energy seller but that the creation of Google Energy is an attempt to proactively address hurdles it could face in its plans to go carbon neutral. Given the legal permission to act as a utility — basically buying and selling clean energy (it owns a large rooftop solar project at its headquarters) — Google could help offset its carbon emissions that result from its large power needs.

It’s actually not all that crazy for a large company — particularly one that consumes a lot of energy and has high energy bills — to seek that status. Last month Nathaniel Bullard, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, pointed out to me that Wal-Mart created Texas Retail Energy, which allows it to procure its own power and get the lowest-cost electricity for their warehouses and retail stores. When news about Wal-Mart’s energy firm came out in 2007 there was a lot of speculation that Wal-Mart would get into the electricity selling business, too, and Wal-Mart said, at the time, that it hadn’t fully ruled that out for the long term.

Well, now Google, like Wal-Mart, has managed to gain approval to buy and sell energy. And specifically, the application says: “Google Energy states that it intends to act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers.” Interestingly enough, the California Public Utilities Commission also filed a motion to intervene in the application, shortly after Google filed it. The document doesn’t elaborate on why. I’m really eager to see what Google does with its newly achieved power.

  1. Sounds very lucrative

    Share
  2. Oh my god – what does Google NOT do? That’s crazy. They’ll own the world soon.

    Share
  3. How about paranoia rised about not to get unplugged once the machines will rise?

    Share
  4. [...] Google Can Now Buy & Sell Energy, What Next? By carboneutralnow … an energy seller but that the creation of Google Energy is an attempt to proactively address hurdles it could face in its plans to go carbon neutral. … See all stories on this topic [...]

    Share
  5. No company is in a better position to aggregate small customers for collaborate power purchasing than Google. Combined with an enhanced Google Power Meter, they have the potential to do more for Energy Efficiency than any company on Earth.

    Share
  6. [...] Google (GOOG) gets into the electricity business.  (24/7 Wall St., earth2tech) [...]

    Share
  7. oh my god..i think google will take over the world some day lol

    Share
  8. Google wants to be Enron? Shouldn’t that give simply everyone pause for concern?

    Share
  9. Yeh…except nearly all their services are free? I suppose they could make it so easy to live with them that we ‘need’ them…

    Share
  10. …Was unaware Walmart could do that guess its there “green” power.

    Don’t mind Google with it though, as long as they don’t try anything funny.

    Share
    1. Wal-Mart has rolled out several “green energy” stores with skylights for natural lighting, very effective recycling, and wind turbines to power the store. The media often overlooks things like that and the stories get buried in a sea of anti-Wal-Mart comments.

      Share

Comments have been disabled for this post