We’re always looking for ways to expand the use of renewable energy. To date we’ve committed more than $1 billion to renewable energy project investments, signed agreements to procure wind power near our data centers, and installed solar panels at our corporate headquarters.

It’s also important to work directly with our utility partners to find solutions that will make more renewable energy available for us and for others. The most straightforward way to do this is for utilities to offer a renewable power option for companies that request it—something that’s not currently offered by most utilities. We’ve just published a white paper (PDF) laying out our thoughts on how and why such programs might work.

We’re also announcing our first effort to put this idea into practice. We’re expanding our Lenoir, N.C. data center, and our local electricity provider, Duke Energy, has pledged to develop a new program for large companies like Google who want to buy renewable power for their operations. Duke will file the plan with their state commission within 90 days.

Our Lenoir, N.C. data center

Offering companies like Google a renewable energy option has many advantages. Because the service is made available to a wide range of customers, companies that don’t have the ability or resources to pursue alternative approaches can participate. And by tapping utilities’ strengths in power generation and delivery, it makes it easier for companies to buy renewable energy on a larger scale. Of course, the approach is not without its challenges: utilities will need to work out the mechanics of the service within their local regulatory structure, and in many cases state utility commissions will need to approve the programs. There’s also the challenge of finding cost-effective renewable projects.

We'll continue to find creative ways to supply our facilities with renewable energy, but we think this solution can provide an important new way to increase the use of renewable energy nationwide. We look forward to working with utilities, state utility commissions, companies and other stakeholders to make it a reality.