Google searches for electricity trading

Jeff Tyler Jan 8, 2010
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Google searches for electricity trading

Jeff Tyler Jan 8, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL:It’s mostly a joke — or at least I think it is — when people say Google wants to take over the world. But get this: As if search and cell phones weren’t enough, Google has asked federal regulators to let it buy and sell electricity.

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: Clicking on a search in Google might not seem like a big use of energy. But behind the scenes, banks of massive computers consume lots of electricity. At the same time, Google has pledged to use cleaner power. In 2007, company leaders said they planned to become carbon-neutral.

Niki Fenwick: We’re trying really hard to be creative about how we can reduce the carbon intensity of our operations.

That’s Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick. She says the ability to trade electricity would give Google…

Fenwick: A little more flexibility to explore various renewable energy purchase and sale agreements. That means we could buy electricity wholesale rather than through a utility. So this is all about us procuring renewable energy for our portfolio.

How much energy does the company need? I asked Jeff Jarvis, the author of “What Would Google Do?”

Jeff Jarvis: Google does not say how many servers it has. But it uses a gargantuan amount of energy in its server farms, all around. Plus, with 22,000 employees, all those offices and computers.

By some estimates, the company uses enough kilowatts to power a medium-sized city. Jarvis says Google has invested $45 million in renewable energy.

Jarvis: Google’s interest in energy is a matter of enlightened self-interest. They use so much energy that if they can reduce the cost of it, that will help them with their bottom line, and it will also help their reputation.

Google says it may sell excess renewable energy on the wholesale market. The company doesn’t plan to compete with utilities. But at the same time, Google won’t rule it out.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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