Google Energy to trade electricity

Google continues to broaden it business focus, now seeking permission to buy and resell electricity.

The search company has created a subsidiary called Google Energy and has applied for a recently created subsidiary to become an electricity marketer from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

In a filing with FERC in late December, the company indicated that it created the Google Energy subsidiary "to identify and develop opportunities to contain and manage the cost of energy for Google."

It is well known that Google is deeply interested in seeking alternative sources of energy and that, as the operator of large data centres worldwide, it faces high electricity costs.

Google is asking FERC to allow Google Energy to "act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers," the filing reads.

Neither Google nor the subsidiary are currently involved in energy commercial activities, the company stated. "The extent of Google's electric generation ownership is presently non-commercial, not for sale into the wholesale markets, and solely for use at its own facilities and for emergency backup power at its own facilities," the filing reads.

FERC is an independent US federal government agency tasked with regulating US interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, according to its website.

If FERC grants the permission, Google "will have the ability to buy and sell power in wholesale markets at market rates," a FERC spokeswoman said via email. Google's application is very common and no different from the type the agency handles, she said.

Google, which asked in its application for a decision from FERC in 60 days or sooner, is interested in procuring more renewable energy, company spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said via email. "The ability to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market could give us more flexibility in doing so," she said. "We made this filing so we can have more flexibility in procuring power for Google's own operations, including our data centres. This FERC authority would improve our ability to hedge our purchases of energy and incorporate renewables into our energy portfolio."

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