Google Explains Why It's an Energy Trader
You read that correctly - Google is now in the energy game...sorta. By arguing that it needed more options in the way it powers its data centers, Google won federal approval in February to buy and sell energy on the open market.
Data centers use huge amounts of energy, and Google owns a huge number of data centers (how many though, they aren't saying), and therefore need a steady supply of juice. Because they're committed to being carbon neutral, they say, the ability to "hedge our purchases of energy and incorporate renewables into our energy portfolio" is a key reason they made the application.
All of that sounds vaguely plausible, but this did require Google to form a wholly owned subsidiary called Google Energy, which has the ability to get into the energy wholesale business. The application filed by Google Energy asked for the ability to "act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers."
Google recently explained itself, basically reiterating it's desire to manage power contracts and not be "the next Enron." So that's good. According to Bill Weihl, Google's "green energy czar", one example of how their status as a trader might work would be to allow them to resell existing electrical contracts in order to purchase renewable contracts from "a wind farm down the road."
How it all shakes out in the end, we'll have to wait and see.