Google buys wind power from Oklahoma authority

Google (NYSE: GOOG) has added to its commitment to go green, but with a twist. A contract with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) in Oklahoma is the first time Google has contracted directly with a utility to increase its renewable energy consumption.

Google will buy up to 48 MW of wind power from GRDA’s interest in the Canadian Hills wind farm near El Reno, Okla. This is the utility’s first wind energy power purchase agreement.

The 300-MW wind project is expected to be complete by the end of the year and will be Oklahoma’s largest wind farm with 135 turbines.

Google will use the electricity to operate its data center in Pryor in northeastern Oklahoma. The data center began operations in 2011.

“In conjunction with the electricity GRDA already supplies Google to operate its data center, Google will pay GRDA a premium to purchase renewable energy generated by Canadian Hills,” Gary Demasi, director of Google’s global infrastructure team, said on a company blog. “This brings the total amount of renewable energy for which Google has contracted to over 260 MW.”

Google last year signed a deal with NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) unit NextEra Energy Resources to buy electricity directly from NextEra’s Minco II Wind Energy Center in Grady and Caddo counties, Oklahoma.

Google said it uses renewable energy for about 30% of its worldwide data center electricity. GRDA approached Google in early 2012 about the possibility of adding wind power, officials said.

“Google’s long and demonstrated commitment to renewable energy, combined with their significant and growing presence within our service area, has been an important factor in GRDA’s pursuit of renewables, as exemplified by this agreement,” Dan Sullivan, CEO of GRDA, said in a statement. “In addition to increasing Google’s access to renewable energy, we are also offsetting part of GRDA’s wind acquisition cost through the premium Google has agreed to pay. We are pleased to pass the savings along to Oklahomans, and we’re proud to pioneer this innovative structure with one of our largest customers.”

The Canadian Hills wind farm is being developed by Apex Wind Energy Holdings LLC and Atlantic Power Corp. The project developers will sell to the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority and Southwestern Electric Power Co., a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP).