Google Can Now Buy & Sell Energy, What Next?

34 Comments

When word broke last month that Google (s GOOG) 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.

34 Comments

Joel Rossetti

Google could produce electricity. Use spent nuclear fuel (SNF) as a power source. The hardware that would produce steam to run turbines can be hauled around on rail cars. Hook up the hardware to produce steam to existing coal fired electrical generation plants. Use their steam power turbines and electrical grids and power lines. And Google is in business. NRC has already approved Breeder Reactors for this operation.

FlipaCoin

This has much potential for good as it does evil. Information is power and who is better at data mining than Google. This can be a good thing unless the information gets in the hands of people, groups, radicals, governments etc that have access to “confidential” information that they can use to push whatever agenda they want. I don’t think Google wants to take over the world but like it or not they are involved in the social and political arena. Take the China censoring conflict they are in. Look at what they are involved in with our own government. Read this article and think about the influence good or bad that Google good have on the events in history. http://www.nolanchart.com/article6227.html

Would it bother you if you owned a company that competed against Google in the energy market? Is it possible Google would have an advantage by censoring or just making it difficult to find any information about their competition yet much easier for people to learn about all of the good things that Google does? I know, I know, they will make a law that will not allow Google’s technology division be fair and not do any that would be “unfair” to their competition.

Does anyone really believe think it was an accident or coincidence that 3 presidential candidates’ supporters were profiled and deemed potential domestic terrorists? Where did they get the information that used to profile them? You guessed it. Anyone ever Google Search any of these candidates? Well guess what.

The controversial Missouri report that profiled supporters of Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin as potential terrorists has been repudiated and withdrawn.

Take the power of information combined with the essential individual, city, county, state, country demand for energy. The potential for great good exists but is it worth the risk considering the potential for even greater evil? Take the devastating effect of an unrelated Madoff scandal and game over if this good intent is used for the benefit of a few.

Visual

No company is in a better position to aggregate small customers for collaborate power purchasing than Google.

DemiGuru

I keep thinking of Google’s other aspiration, as an ISP.
Combined with the existing Power Grid infrastructure – Can you say Power over Ethernet?

Eideard

Looks like most commenters here are about as ignorant of the real world of economics as [sadly] I expected.

“Oh alack and aday, Google is joining with Walmart to take over our planet.”

Any of you have an idea how many American corporation have gotten approval to do this?

About 1500.

The essentials are never as complex as paranoids would make it out to be. It’s called cutting costs.

Electricity producers do not limit their sales to consumers. Buying in at the lower prices established for jobbers or distributors allows Google to sell internally, sell to their divisions, data centers, at lower prices than previous.

It’s why I buy gasoline from a local fuel distributor who runs a self-serve station for contractors at his tank farm. It’s not a lot – but I qualify – and I save about 6¢ a gallon.

Marilyn

Shelley,
If the utilities don’t do it and the banks don’t do it and the cities don’t do it, GOOGLE will do it!
Marilyn

henry Sinclair

The next thing Google will be doing by the looks of it will also be looking at selling real estate in Britain, due to more relaxed buying and selling roles.

The intend to be selling real estate within the year

dan

Google = next Enron is very real. Enron guys were not evil at first either. But in all seriousness, this makes sense since they could save cost on all that datacenters.

dreamsburnred

…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.

Janey

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.

Jack

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

Stephen

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

Russ

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.

David

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

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