Google has invested $200 million in a utility-scale wind farm developed by a San Diego renewable energy developer.
A spokeswoman for EDF Renewable Energy, headquartered in the Carmel Valley neighborhood, said Thursday that participation by the internet search giant was a departure from working with traditional financial institutions.
The backing goes toward EDF’s Spinning Spur Wind Project, a 161 megawatt facility located in Oldham County, Texas, between Amarillo and the New Mexico state line. The facility is designed to produce enough electricity at full capacity to power 60,000 average U.S. homes.
On its official blog, Google described the logic behind the equity investment.
“We look for projects like Spinning Spur because, in addition to creating more renewable energy and strengthening the local economy, they also make for smart investments: they offer attractive returns relative to the risks and allow us to invest in a broad range of assets,” it explained.
Part of those returns are based on the federal production tax credit for utility-scale wind projects that can offset as much as one-third of development costs.
Google, based in Mountain View, has investments in 10 other renewable energy projects, including BrightSources’s Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in San Bernardino County. The projects have a combined generation capacity of roughly 2 gigwatts. That’s enough to power 500,000 homes – or watch 70 billion episodes of television, by Google’s unique estimates.
EDF Renewable Energy is a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, which owns and operates Spinning Spur and more than 50 other renwable energy installations. The businesses are an extention of the French state utility Électricité de France.
Spinning Spur consists of 70 Siemens 2.3 megawatt turbines. The electricity has been contracted to SPS, a utility primarily serving Texas and New Mexico. The wind farm commenced commercial operations in December.
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