Google’s Latest Steps to Increase Its Use of Renewable Energy

Source: By DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015

As nations wrangle in Paris this week over reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, companies have been eager to show that they, too, are getting with the program.

Now, from Google, long a leader among corporations in green energy investing, comes new agreements to buy renewable energy to power its operations that, taken together, nearly double what it had already promised.

“We’re really trying to lead this transition to a cleaner energy economy,” said Michael Terrell, principal for energy and infrastructure at Google, whose aim is to use 100 percent renewable energy. “It’s transforming anyone who touches the energy space. It’s not just about data centers or tech companies.”

The Google announcement follows a flurry of similar, though smaller, corporate purchases of renewable energy this year by companies including Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Dow Chemical and Amazon Web Services. Bloomberg has agreed to buy more than 25 percent of the energy generated by a wind farm in Chautauqua County to offset the energy use of its New York offices. More recently, Unilever promised to eliminate coal from its energy mix within five years

The combination of falling prices for green energy and increasing pressure from shareholders and customers to show direct action, rather than just set goals, in fighting global warming has helped spur the deals. In addition, increased experience and the advent of new mechanisms — like a green tariff, in use in North Carolina and Nevada, that Google helped devise to make it easier for companies to buy renewables through their utilities — has made it easier for corporations to take greater control over where their energy dollars go.

Google has invested about $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects. The latest deals will bring the amount of renewable energy it has agreed to purchase to 2 gigawatts from 1.2 gigawatts, executives said. The projects include solar power from farms in North Carolina and Chile and wind power from farms in Oklahoma and Sweden.