Wind at its back
Google didn't respond to a request for comment by deadline. Yet even Google seems to acknowledge its dichotomy.
The company owns 13 energy-guzzling data centers, warehouses equipped with servers, worldwide. But it hosted a conference earlier this month titled, "How Green is the Internet?"
The answer seemed to be: not very green. Former Vice President Al Gore gave the keynote address, telling the audience that data centers are responsible for 2 percent of the pollution that causes global warming -- a percentage that will grow rapidly since data storage is doubling every 18 months to 24 months.
His speech was a reminder of why the work Google does is so important to the future of the planet, Joyce Dickerson, who is in charge of sustainability for Google's data centers, told the crowd after Gore spoke.
Google has invested in 12 clean-energy projects worldwide, from a solar plant in South Africa to the New Jersey Energy Link. Is it to reduce its expenses? To make an investment return from its ample cash? To save the environment? To protect its brand and, ultimately, continue to roll out its vision of the world?
The New Jersey Energy Link, chosen by the Atlantic Wind Connection to be the first segment of its offshore transmission backbone, is simply the latest example of where Google wants to take you. It has a 37.5 percent equity stake in the project.
The transmission line would carry power from wind turbines off the Jersey Shore to stations in Lacey, Jersey City and just south of Atlantic City, and carry 3,000 megawatts of electricity, or more than four times what's needed to make up for the retirement of the Oyster Creek nuclear facility, planned for 2019.
A video about the project on YouTube outlines numerous benefits. It would help make the U.S. energy independent, reduce the need for polluting coal plants and create thousands of green-energy jobs.
Neither Google nor Robert Mitchell, chief executive officer of New Jersey Link, would say how much the project would cost. Stefanie Brand, director of the Office of Rate Counsel, a ratepayer advocate, said the project would cost $1.3 billion.
As with most utility infrastructure projects, New Jerseyans ultimately would pay for it. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2011 approved an incentive plan that would give the equity investors a 12.59 percent return once the project is built and the chance to recover all of its costs from ratepayers if the project is abandoned for no fault of their own.
"We would pay for it," Brand said. "It would end up getting passed through to us."
The project would need to be approved by the state Board of Public Utilities. New Jersey policymakers last week worked on a resolution that essentially would endorse the wind project -- a step it will need if it is to be included in the transmission plan of PJM Interconnection, the region's grid.
To the resolution's sponsors, Google's motives scarcely matter. The state needs an alternative energy source. Ratepayers always pay to upgrade their energy system, at least, eventually. And Google is one of the few investors with enough money to make it happen.
"One day, it's going to be very, very important," Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Cumberland, said. "There's no one that doesn't say the ability to harness this wind energy isn't to our advantage."
Michael L. Diamond: 732-643-4038; mdiamond
(c)2013 the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.)
Visit the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.) at www.app.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Most Popular Stories
- Twitter Names Woman to Board
- Obamacare Doing Just Fine, Ky. Governor Says
- Rand Paul Signs up for Obamacare
- Hispanic Employment Improves in November
- Aspen Contracting Adding 300 Jobs
- Thalia Gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Trapped Florida Whales Head for Deeper Waters
- How to Arm Yourself Against CryptoLocker Virus
- U.S. Chamber to Run Ads in Idaho, W.Va.
- Dow Jumps 200 Points on Jobs Data