Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grants 'market-based rate authority' to Google's newest subsidiary, appropriately named, Google Energy.
Internet search engine and global tech giant, Google Inc., has officially entered the electric utility game, although don't expect to be writing a check to Google Energy for your monthly electric bill any time soon.
In a unanimous vote, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a request from Google, Inc. to buy and sell electricity, granting Google "market based rate authority." But like many new ventures the Mountain View, California-based tech giant embarks on, they're not quite sure where they're going with it yet, or what they'll do with their new authority. Google has no immediate plans to buy or sell electricity, but reportedly made the move to better position itself to manage its own energy and to have more access to renewable energy.
The new subsidiary, Google Energy, "was formed to identify and develop opportunities to contain and manage the cost of energy for Google," according to FERC (pdf). "Google Energy states that it intends to act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers."
In recent years, Google has made several moves into the energy space, ranging from large-scale clean energy R&D, to their own in-home demand side energy management platform, Google PowerMeter, and a plug-in electric vehicle experiment called ReChargeIt. The company has also developed one of the largest on-site solar generating facilities in the U.S., including solar panel-topped carports (pictured above).
In the FERC decision dated February 18, 2010, Secretary Kimberly D. Bose wrote that because Google does not own or control wholesale electric generation or transmission facilities, nor do they have a franchised service area for the sale of electricity to "captive customers", there were no real reasons to deny the Google application.
Because they have no immediate plans to sell electricity, Google requested waivers that would normally be required of most regulated utilities, including those covering cost-of-service information, as well as other accounting and periodic reporting requirements.
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