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Google Invests Nearly $39 million for Wind Farms in North Dakota

Google has invested $38.8 million in two wind farms in North Dakota, already built by NextEra Energy Resources, reports the New York Times. It represents a minority interest in a recent $190 million round of financing for the projects. Google said its investment will fund additional energy projects.

Rick Needham, green business operations manager at Google, said in a company blog that the wind farms generate 169.5 megawatts or enough capacity to power more than 55,000 homes. He also touted the use of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems including the larger blades with 15 percent more swept area and remote 24/7 monitoring and operation.

Needham also said the investment will “accelerate the deployment of renewable energy — in a way that makes good business sense, too.”

In February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Google’s move into the energy market, enabling the company to sell energy, capacity and ancillary services. Google Energy intends to act as a power marketer by purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers.

Jamie Yood, a Google spokesman, told the New York Times that the investment is a “tax equity investment,” allowing the company to earn a return based on the tax credits awarded by the government for renewable energy projects. He also said the energy from the wind farms will not be used to power Google’s data centers.

Google also hopes to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. In 2008, Google unveiled its $4.4 trillion “Clean Energy 2030” plan to help the U.S. lessen its dependence on fossil fuels.

Over the years, Google’s green energy projects have included large solar power installations on its campus, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle program, investments in eSolar and AltaRock (for geothermal systems), and energy-efficient data centers.

Google also recently released its new PowerMeter API, aimed at manufacturers of electrical devices, from refrigerators and washing machines to other appliances that have built-in energy monitoring technology.

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