Google Continues to Invest in Wind Power With New Deal in Texas

Google has been making wind power investments since 2010, in addition to using wind power for some of its data centers.

Google has invested about $200 million in a wind farm in western Texas near Amarillo, as the company continues to expand its involvement in the renewable energy marketplace.

Google's latest investment is at the Spinning Spur Wind Project in Oldham County in the Texas Panhandle, according to a Jan. 9 post by Kojo Ako-Asare, Google's senior manager of corporate finance, in the Official Google Blog.

The 161-megawatt facility was built by EDF Renewable Energy, a company that's built more than 50 other clean energy projects, according to Google. The facility has 70 Siemens wind turbines, each producing 2.3 megawatts of power, which is sent along transmission lines to SPS, a utility serving Texas and New Mexico.

"We look for projects like Spinning Spur because, in addition to creating more renewable energy and strengthening the local economy, they also make for smart investments: they offer attractive returns relative to the risks and allow us to invest in a broad range of assets," wrote Ako-Asare. "We're also proud to be the first investor in an EDF Renewable Energy project that is not a financial institution, as we believe that corporations can be an important new source of capital for the renewable energy sector."

The Spinning Spur wind farm's turbines generate enough energy to power more than 60,000 average U.S. homes, according to Google.

The project is the 11th investment in renewable energy facilities that Google has made since 2010, wrote Ako-Asare. Google so far has invested in wind and solar power facilities that produce more than 2 gigawatts of power combined.

Other Google renewable energy investments include the Atlantic Wind Connection project, which will span 350 miles of the coast from New Jersey to Virginia to connect 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines; and the Shepherds Flat project in Arlington, Ore., which is one of the world's largest wind farms with a capacity of 845 megawatts. Shepherds Flat began operating in October 2012.

Google also has invested in the Brightsource Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California's Mojave Desert, which is more than 75 percent complete and employs more than 2,000 workers, according to Ako-Asare's post.

In September 2012, Google announced a separate deal that provides green wind power for its expanding data center in Mayes County, Okla., as part of the company's commitment to becoming carbon-neutral.

In Oklahoma, Google signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) to provide its Oklahoma data center with 48 megawatts of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project in Oklahoma.

Google is already using renewable energy at the Oklahoma data center through other electricity supplied by the GRDA. The wind project was the local authority's first such project. The Google Oklahoma data center went live in 2011, and in February 2012, GRDA approached Google about buying power from the then-developing wind project.

Under the deal, the additional wind power available was scheduled to increase the total amount of renewable energy Google buys from the authority to more than 260 megawatts.

By buying the power directly from the authority, Google says it will allow it to get the renewable energy it needs for its operations from a vendor who can provide it using multiple green paths, including hydroelectric, wind and more in a scalable way. Some 30 percent of the total power Google uses in all its facilities presently comes from renewable sources, according to the company.