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Google Green Czar Steps Down

Google green czar Bill Weihl quietly stepped down from his post yesterday.

Weihl, who headed the company’s Clean Energy Team, confirmed his departure to the website Fresh Dialogues only a few days ago. He told the site, “It’s time to move on and find something new,” but wouldn’t disclose what his next move would be.

PCWorld said Weihl was involved in almost all green initiatives at Google, including research, investments in green technologies, and energy reduction efforts. Major green projects at Google include a $168 million equity investment in the 370 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and a 42 percent stake in the $5 billion Atlantic Wind Connection, a planned undersea power line to enable 6,000 MW of wind development from New York to Virginia. Altogether, Google has invested more than $800 million in clean energy, Business Insider reports.

“Bill has catalyzed thinking and action about clean energy at Google and beyond, and has played a crucial role in developing our approach to sustainability,” Urs Hoelzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said in a statement.

Weihl was also frequently a spokesman for these efforts, and speaks regularly on energy efficiency issues. (He is featured in this video alongside Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft; and participated in this Fortune Brainstorm Green panel discussion.

Last year he spoke out, on behalf of Google, against California’s proposition 23, which would have blocked California’s planned emissions cap until unemployment dropped below a specified threshold.

Weihl held the green energy czar title since February 2006. Before that he worked as an independent consultant, and at Akamai Technologies, Compaq and Digital Equipment Corp. He has a PhD in computer science from MIT, where he was a professor for ten years.

Since 1997, Weihl has also been vice-president and co-chair of the board of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

During most of Weihl’s tenure, Google refused to reveal its carbon footprint, saying the information would erode its competitive advantage. But in September, Google announced that it generated 1.46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and consumed 2,259,998 MWh in 2010.

Google’s clean energy public affairs manager Parag Chokshi told Fresh Dialogues that Urs Hoelzle will continue to lead the company’s data center efficiency and renewable power purchase initiatives, and Rick Needham will lead on sustainability and renewable energy investments. “Bill (Weihl) played a unique and important role bridging several different internal teams. But we have a strong team in place,” Chokshi said, seeming to indicate that Weihl may not be replaced.

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