Google invests $94 million in California solar farms

Google reaches for the sun. The search engine's latest multimillion-dollar investment will bring solar power to homes around Sacramento.

Business Wire/File
Google will invest $95 million in new solar farms in California. Pictured, a press shot from a previous Google solar initiative, in 2007.

Google, in concert with investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), announced Tuesday a joint clean-energy investment in four California solar farms.

The project aims to generate 88 megawatts of electric power, enough for more than 13,000 average American homes.   

The produced electricity has already been spoken for: Google signed a 20 year contract with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

Google said on its Green Blog that the company will invest $94 million. KKR will provide the remaining $95 million. 

“We’re excited to be supporting KKR’s entrance into the renewable energy sector in the U.S.,” Axel Martinez, Google’s assistant treasurer, told Forbes in a statement. ”We hope the sector continues to attract new sources of capital."

According to Bloomberg, the price will fluctuate between 7.5 cents and 27.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, based on the time of delivery. (The national average sits around 11 cents per kWh, according to the Environment Protection Agency.)

This is the company’s first major investment in a solar photovoltaic power plant that will produce energy for a grid instead of individual rooftops.   

Google says in its statement that “investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and [they] hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future.”  

Today's news reverses reports from November that the company had abandoned its solar efforts in a move by Google CEO Larry Page to focus on fewer projects.

"To recap, we're in the process of shutting down a number of products which haven't had the impact we'd hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward,'' wrote Google Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Holzle in the blog post from November.

Google's investments in clean energy projects exceed $925 million, including more than $880 million since the beginning of this year. Google said Tuesday that these investments aim to produce 1.7 gigawatts of power and provide electricity to 350,000 houses.

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