Google today announced it has purchased the entire output of a 240MW wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. Called Happy Hereford, the wind farm is expected to start producing energy in late 2014.
Happy Hereford, developed by Native American-owned Chermac Energy based in Oklahoma, will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). It’s no coincidence that this is the regional grid that serves Google’s Mayes County, Oklahoma data center.
Google ended 2012 with over 10 figures invested in renewable energy. At the time, all of its renewable energy projects together were capable of generating an estimated 2 gigawatts of power.
Today’s purchase is Google’s fifth long-term agreement and its “largest commitment yet.” In terms of just wind energy, the company has now contracted for more than 570MW, which it estimates is enough energy to power approximately 170,000 US households.
There’s a catch though, which Google is circumventing:
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. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
See also – Google outlines plan for utilities to offer renewable power to companies, starts with its Lenoir data center and Google buys 10 years of renewable energy to power its Finnish data center with Swedish wind
Top Image Credit: Petr Kovar