Google now buying enough wind energy to power 170K homes

Google is staying true to its mission to buy clean power for its data centers, and on Tuesday announced it’s purchasing another 240 megawatts from a wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas, called Happy Hereford, which will be live in late 2014. The wind power contract — Google’s largest purchase agreement to date — will send power into the area of the grid where Google’s Mayes County, Oklahoma data center operates.

A Google-backed wind farm in Iowa

A Google-backed wind farm in Iowa

Because of regulations, Google’s Oklahoma data center can’t directly consume the wind power, but Google will sell the energy into the wholesale energy market, retire the associated renewable energy credits and apply additional credits to lowering its overall carbon footprint. Google has taken this approach before, and it’s one of the reasons that Google created its subsidiary Google Energy. In other regions Google can directly buy and use the wind power.

The Happy Hereford wind farm deal is Google’s first wind purchase contract in Texas, and the farm itself is being developed by a Native American-owned company in Oklahoma called Chermac Energy. But Google has invested equity in wind farms in Texas, like the Spinning Spur Wind Project, which has a capacity to power about 60,000 U.S homes, and is located in Oldham County, Texas.

In total Google has invested over $1 billion into 2 GW — or a Hoover’s Dam worth — of clean power projects. These investments have been in the form of equity into projects, directly and indirectly buying clean power, investing in clean power startups, and even more experimental initiatives like buying wind startup Makani Power.