Googles new wind power deal shows real corporate leadership

by David Pomerantz

September 26, 2012

Google announced it is purchasing 48 megawatts of renewable wind power for US data center

Whens the last time you felt really good about something a corporation has done for the environment?

If youre like me, its probably not recently. Big companies usually grace Greenpeaces blog for destroying the environment.

Today though, we can feel good about at least one companys actions:Google announcedthat it is purchasing 48 megawatts of clean, renewable wind power for its data center in Oklahoma, USA. Thats enough clean energy to power a small city!

Googles announcement shows what the most forward-thinking, successful companies can accomplish when they are serious about powering their operations with clean energy.

To power its Oklahoma data center one of the facilities responsible for bringing you your Gmail, Docs, and Google search results Google faced a local electricity mix of over 50% coal power. But as one of the major electricity customer in the state, Google worked with the local utility to secure a new supply of renewable wind energy.

As Google powers more of its data center fleet with clean energy, it sends a signal to other Internet companies and electric utilities around the world that renewable energy is not only possible, but is simply smart business in the 21st-century economy.

As highlighted in this week’s New York Times series The Cloud Factories, the energy demand of our Internet use does have real-world impacts, but Google has shown that those impacts can be positive, not negative, if they bring us more clean energy.

The Internet can be the engine that drives our economies toward a true clean energy future if other companies follow Googles leadership.

Unfortunately, many technology companies are falling into the same old 20th-century mold of being part of the environmental problem. One of Googles main competitors in the search, email and cloud arenas is Microsoft, and Googles announcement today only sharpens the contrast between the two companies energy use.

While both Google and Microsoft have committed to being “carbon neutral,” unlike Google,Microsoft has yet to significantly invest in clean energy, instead continuing to build data centers attached to dirty sources of electricity like coal and nuclear power. While Google is doing something to clean up its energy supply, Microsoft has sought to mask its dirty energy supply with carbon offsets and renewable energy credits. If Microsoft wants environmentally-minded customers to choose Bing, Outlook and its Microsoft Office cloud, it needs to follow Googles lead and invest in renewable energy.

Add your name to the hundreds of thousands of peoplewho are calling for Microsoft and other technology leaders to follow Googles lead, so we can know that our Internet use is part of our energy solution, not the problem, and have more days like today where we feel good about a company doing the right thing.

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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