It’s been more than two years since Google’s last big big to enter a government-regulated offline business. They offered some $4.6B for wireless spectrum in an auction in 2008, but it seemed that the multi-billion bid was merely a ploy to get some of their demands for the spectrum met.
But that’s not quite the case with Google’s recent application to buy and sell power “much like utility companies do,” according to the New York Times. Google told the Federal Energy Regulation Commission that they need this capability to support their power-hungry facilities with more renewable energy sources. Google created a subsidiary last month, Google Energy, to handle this.
As the NYT points out, this isn’t Google’s first look at energy:
This is hardly Google’s first foray into the energy world. Over the years, Google has invested in renewable energy projects through its philanthropic and venture capital units. It has also embarked on a number of engineering projects and partnerships to, for example, advance plug-in hybrids and offer tools to measure home electricity usage. And it has an ambitious goal to help develop renewable energy that is cheaper than coal. Bill Weihl, Google’s green energy czar, discussed many of those initiatives and goals in a lengthy interview with The New York Times published on Thursday.
Google insists that they’re not getting into the market to trade energy, but if their application is approved, they could sell any surplus energy they own.
What do you think? Is this just Google’s carbon-neutrality quest, or a back-door entry into another market?