Google Invests $38 Million in NextEra Wind Projects

May 25, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

Google announced, via its company blog, its first direct investment in a utility-scale renewable energy project – two wind farms that generate 169.5MW of power, enough to power more than 55,000 homes. These wind farms, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, harness power from what is described as one of the world’s richest wind resources in the North Dakota plains and use existing transmission capacity to deliver clean energy to the region, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Through this $38.8 million investment, we’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.

To reach a clean energy future, Google states that it needs three things: effective policy, innovative technology and smart capital. Through its philanthropic arm, the company has been pushing for energy policies that strengthen the innovation pipeline, and the company has been dedicating resources to developing new technologies, including making investments in early-stage renewable energy companies such as eSolar and AltaRock. Smart capital includes not only these early-stage company investments, but also dedicated funding for utility-scale projects. To tackle this need, the company has been looking at investments in renewable energy projects, like the one just signed with NextEra, that can accelerate the deployment of the latest clean energy technology while providing attractive returns to Google and more capital for developers to build additional projects.

Google states that it is excited about this first project investment because it uses some of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems to provide one of the lowest-cost sources of renewable energy to the local grid. The turbines can continuously adjust the individual blade pitch angles to achieve optimal efficiency and use larger blades with 15 percent more swept area than earlier generations, allowing capture of even more wind energy for each turbine. The control systems for these wind farms are also advanced and dynamic, allowing for remote 24/7 monitoring and operation to ensure maximum turbine up-time and power production.

NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of FPL Group Inc., said that it plans to use the proceeds from the sale to reimburse, in part, capital contributions made by NextEra to develop and build the wind facilities.

"This transaction marks NextEra Energy Resources’ second differential partnership transaction and the first since 2007," said Armando Pimentel, FPL Group’s Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. "We’re pleased that we continue to have access across the capital markets, including differential partnership structures, to fund the growth of the wind business."