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Google Gets US Approval To Buy and Sell Energy 218

Posted by timothy
from the smartest-guys-in-the-room dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday granted Google the authority to buy and sell energy on a wholesale basis. Google applied for the authorization last December through a wholly owned subsidiary called Google Energy. 'We made this filing so we can have more flexibility in procuring power for Google's own operations, including our data centers,' Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said via e-mail. But the authorization also raises the prospect that Google may start to buy and sell energy as a business." Reader angry_tapir supplies a link to the approval document itself (PDF).
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Google Gets US Approval To Buy and Sell Energy

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  • Oh Yay.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ozdeadman (1656597) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:35AM (#31197032)
    Google Enron!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by M8e (1008767)

      Goonron!

      • Central Services: We do the work, you do the pleasure.
        "Hi There. I Want to Talk to You About Ducts."

        This is your receipt for your husband... and this is my receipt for your receipt.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)
      wait... are you telling me to look up Enron on Google, or insinuating that Google is creating an Enron-like division (the naming scheme would probably follow something like GEnron?)... this is what happens when nouns become verbs :(
    • We just went through this with the US Auto companies. I was thinking the other day about how quite a few colleges and companies are migrating to Gmail. (Thankfully mine did not). What happens in 5 years when google somehow 'fails'. Are the feds going to let 25% of small businesses and 40% of companies instantly lose e-mail or are they going to bail them out?

      Now with energy are we going to let X people lose power + email & what ever google does for us in the future?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by memnock (466995)

        what i want to know is: how soon before Google starts collecting taxes or has its own judicial system?

        they're becoming as pervasive as government. people complain about the government having its hand in all parts of one's daily life, yet there are not major outcries against Google starting down that path. because it's a company? and there is a "choice" not to deal with them? what happens when the choice disappears? Google interwebs, Google phone, Google energy... Google grocery, Google utilities, Google med

        • I was told to remain silent, but I can longer do that in good faith.

          You see, the real story is that Google is planning on purchasing an island and declaring itself a nation with it's own navy. But that's not the news. What's so special is half the dead volcano is carved into a skull with a fully functioning mandible. Only the top executive staff my fly in and out of this entrance.

          In other news, the Cobra militants have offered a competing bid for the island. Quote: "we refuse to be a 2nd class evil organiza

          • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday February 19, 2010 @12:40PM (#31200618) Journal
            That's ridiculous. We all know that Google is not purchasing an island to declare a nation with its own navy.

            As a matter of fact, what we *DO* know is that Googol the Destroyer was accidentally summoned into this world and is currently planning on evoking the End of Days via the Rite of a Million Targeted Ads (ROAMTA). This is just another piece of that plan -- the ROAMTA requires a supercollider to be built on the polar opposite of the Large Hadron Collider, with the particles accelerated in the opposite direction of those in the LHC. This will create a bipolar quantum energy concundrum into which Googol can insert his data to give it special power before using it to target the Million Ads.

            When last we saw our heroes [slashdot.org], Gatus and Joba were busy converting developers to the cause, that of building the One True OS with Built-in Universal Search in order to thwart the plans of Googol the Destroyer. Stallmanx and his Beard Gnomes had been rebuffed in his efforts to trick Googol via legal wrangling in the license offered to Googol. Meanwhile, the Webcrawling Spiders of Doom were busy collecting data for Googol the Destroyer to devour with gobsmacking satisfaction.

            Unbeknownst to our heroes, Googol has presented another vector by which he may be thwarted -- if Googol can be denied the massive energy required to build his particle accelerator, then his plan can be thwarted. Unfortunately, the only person with the know-how and stick-to-it-iveness to thwart Googol on this front is one T-Bone Pickings, a man of grandiose plans and few teeth. Sadly for our heroes, Pickings has had no contact with them.

            So as Gatus continues to buy developers with his pit-of-bottomless cash, and Joba continues to use his powers of marketing to make the developers believe they will be uncool if they do not work on the One True OS with Global Search, and Stallmanx is slowly seeing the wisdom of joining forces with Gatus and Joba, Pickings works alone with only the sometimes merry, sometimes soulful, strumming of a banjo for accompaniment.

            Will our heroes be able to team up with T-Bone Pickings? How can they work together to sabotage the Plans of Googol the Destroyer? Or will Googol the Destroyer succeed in his plans to wreak the End of Days and control all the data of the universe?

            Tune in to next week's episode of Googol the Destroyer!
    • I'm thinking more like Google-Yutani.

      I mean, really, how long can it be before Google begins moving into Terraforming as well!

      Google-Yutani,...Building Better Worlds! :)

  • Excellent (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Google-powered everything!

  • GEnergy (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:47AM (#31197080)

    Does this mean we can attach energy to our emails now?

    • Re:GEnergy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:10AM (#31197232) Journal

      Will Google offer the energy free of cost? And how long until Google Energy gets out of beta? Will you initially need an invite?

      Coupled with intelligent power management (where appliances communicate to optimize energy consumption), it could be a data miner's wet dream: Base the ads not only on what web pages you view, but also on what appliances you use when and how often. You use your washing machine a lot? Get lots of ads for washing agents. You watch TV a lot? Get ads for a new plasma TV. You use lots of kitchen machines? Get ads for cookbooks, ingredients for your cooking, kitchen knives, etc. Oh, and your health insurance might be interested in the fact that your lights are on during much of the night. You seem to have a very unhealthy lifestyle; your insurance rates unfortunately have to be increased ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by biryokumaru (822262) *
      Psh, Dilbert's [dilbert.com] been doing that since 1994.
    • No, no, no!!

      You can E-MAIL energy, and attach content. Only through Google's system, though. :>

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:53AM (#31197118) Journal
    I know it's popular to hate on Google lately, but I don't understand why tapirs would be angry about it. Oh, nevermind.
  • Woohoo GOOGLE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nicknamenotavailable (1730990) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:56AM (#31197146)

    All the power to you!

    You're working on fiber to the home [slashdot.org].

    Now you're working on Power.
    Perhaps someday soon your name will appear on my utility bills as well.

    So-far everything is good. But I'm afraid.
    You control my email, you control my web searches, you pay me for ads on my site.
    You say don't be evil. And I believe you.

    But I'm still afraid.
    I'm afraid that if I will ever wrong you,
    if you're ever displeased with what I say about you,
    I will dissapp#~s8 -`15ht@#&fge LOST CARRIER ...

    • Re:Woohoo GOOGLE! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pyr02k1 (1640167) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:27AM (#31197330)
      Dont forget the phone... they've got that pretty well covered at the pace Android phones are being released and the use of google voice on the same phones.... Jeez, never really thought that far into it before. Phone itself, a portion of the service, plus the electricity and internet to the home. top that with the email, search and ads ... jeez
      • You wake up one morning in your California home.

        You power on your ChromeOS laptop running on Google Energy

        You connect via Google gigabit fiber to get to:

        - Your email on Gmail
        - Your docs on Google Apps

        You use Google Search to look some stuff up. You run across a funny pic and share it with Google Buzz.

        Then you leave your house with your Google Nexus One phone which is navigating you via Google Maps. A Google Street View van takes a picture of you.

        You get a call via Google Voice. It says to surrender, that re

    • by emilper (826945)

      Google has a pile of money, and must do something with it ... next it will buy grocery stores ...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AVryhof (142320)

        Actually, that would be awesome. A grocery store with products people want subsidised by Google for data mining to sell ads. Imagine searching online and seeing things like Lettuce, Carrots, Croutons and Salad dressing in your targeted advertising because you buy a lot of salad ingredients at Google Grocery.

        Watch out Walmart, Google is coming to town!

        You can buy power, food, phones, ChromeOS Netbooks and more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Skater (41976)

          Actually, that would be awesome. A grocery store with products people want subsidised by Google for data mining to sell ads. Imagine searching online and seeing things like Lettuce, Carrots, Croutons and Salad dressing in your targeted advertising because you buy a lot of salad ingredients at Google Grocery.

          That already exists. My local grocery store has scanners you can carry around that you use to scan the barcode of items you're buying. Go to the register, give them (or it) any coupons, pay, and you're on your way. But while you're walking around it will occasionally make old-fashioned cash register noises and show you coupons for stuff you happen to be near and stuff you buy a lot (you have to scan your shopper's card to get a scanner in the first place).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Neil Hodges (960909)

            And if you have a "preferred" card or related form of unique identification, they can track your purchases. Most grocery stores around here have that as a way to get better prices.

    • You control my email

      If you have a problem with Google controlling your email, why do you let them do that?

      you control my web searches

      If you have a problem with that, why not switch to a competitor?

      If you don't want people to have power over you, the solution (at least in this case) is to not give them power. Yes, you'll have to pass up an offer of some convenience. But you can't have both, so if you complain about them having power, you're complaining about you making the wrong choice for yourself.

      Stop making that choice.

  • by quarkoid (26884) on Friday February 19, 2010 @05:59AM (#31197164) Homepage

    Presumably Google have found a way to tag each electron with targetted advertising.

    Plug your washing machine into a Google Energy supply and your shirts will come out of the machine covered in ad-words suggestions.

    I hate to think what you'll get adverts for when you wash a three day old pair of gruds.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:06AM (#31197200) Journal

    For those of you wondering when Google will become sentient:

    I think this proves it already is and is just solidifying its control over the systems it needs to dominate the world!

    Next will be when Google becomes a defense contractor specializing in nuclear weapons security.

    Poor Larry Page and Sergey Brin, they are probably already "meat puppets" for Google!

  • We R in Control (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:26AM (#31197320) Homepage Journal

    We control the data banks
    We control the think tanks
    We control the flow of air.

    We're controlling traffic lights
    We control computer flights
    We control the chief of staff.

    We control the TV sky
    We control the FBI
    We control the flow of heat.

    We R in Control, Neil Young. [metrolyrics.com]

  • Google Catering?

    Google Surgical?

    Google Vacation?

    Google Porn?

    Google Heavy Industries?

  • Azaiel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l0stmage (1268502) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:28AM (#31197336)
    IMO this is just yet one more example of Google (regardless of your thoughts of the company as a whole) is making an intelligent business decision. Buying and selling energy will be yet one more reason for people to go with Google as their main provider. Since Comcast and Verizon have started offering all in one packages (TV, Phone, Internet), why wouldn't Google do the same, imagine getting everything on one bill, Google Phone, Water, Electricity, Internet, and TV? While I enjoy the flexibility to choose different providers for different services, it seems that this might make a good target for large corporations...has kind of an ominous ring to it...Is Google Earth starting to sound creepy to anyone else?
  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gudeldar (705128) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:41AM (#31197404)
    I know Google is a big company and some people think they are trying to take over the world but I don't see how them trying to get better electricity rates for their datacenters is Slashdot worthy. Any idea that Google is going to get into the electricity business is patently absurd.
    • Re:News? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:48AM (#31197422) Homepage Journal

      I'm sure it's completely unrelated to all the stories we've been hearing about Google investigating nuclear reactors and inviting speakers to give tech talks on alternate nuclear power concepts.

      • I had not even thought of that. Google needs lots and lots of power. Power comes from nuclear reactors (and other places). But nuclear reactors cost lots and lots of money, and up front too. Solution: Google builds nuclear plants! Win!
  • by voodoo cheesecake (1071228) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:43AM (#31197412)
    Maybe in the long run I'll be using a Google router with a kilowatt rating similar to my main power panel. Plugged into that router could be separate power/ fibre lines for each of my appliances, which will be network appliances with mac addresses.. I'll be able to plug in additional sensors to detect the freshness of my food in the fridge, better regulate the efficiency of my dryer, turn of my lights, water my lawn, etc... If I buy Google appliances with advertising screens built in, maybe sponsors will pay for my power or give me discounts if purchase their products. This could all be linked to my Google rewards account. Hell, why not also go wireless with this power through inductive coupling! Next thing you know, we'll all be wireless network appliances with built in sensors. Our cars won't start if we're too buzzed up. It will even come to the point where we can sell our intellectual property for free power since an upgrade will transmit our thoughts. And there will even be hope for non-productive types to contribute idle brain power to BOINC projects. Behold the era of the Manchurian Crack Heads!
  • huh (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:46AM (#31197414) Homepage Journal

    all this time i thought they were becoming skynet

    now its clear they are becoming the matrix

  • Enron 2.0 anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cbope (130292)

    Do we really need Enron 2.0?

    I mean come on, what is it with companies lately, especially tech companies, jumping into totally un-related "business opportunities". I guess the days of doing one or two things really well are gone, welcome to the days of doing many things in a mediocre or sub-standard fashion.

    Hasn't Enron proven without a doubt that energy trading is nothing more than a huge sham to squeeze as much money as possible by interfering/obstructing and generally creating un-necessary shortages in th

    • Re:Enron 2.0 anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by darthflo (1095225) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:24AM (#31197626)

      This is anything but an unrelated "business opportunity".
      Google owns huge datacenters. Google has been known to purchase gobs of dark fibre [cnet.com], at this point I imagine they might very well have sufficient connectivity between their datacenters to sustain operations. Throw in their own little grid (a bunch of thorium reactors [blogspot.com], perhaps?) and, given enough thorium, they become self-sufficient. Throw in some wireless connectivity with base stations (remember the 700 MHz spectrum auction [gigaom.com]? Remember Google's bid [publicknowledge.org]?) linked to their fibre network and powered through their grid and you get a self-sustaining ad distribution network that'll reach the whole U.S. without needing any partners.

      "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Will "don't be evil" cancel that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078)

        and you get a self-sustaining ad distribution network that'll reach the whole U.S.

        The ad distribution reaches the whole world, not only the USofA.

        • Reading comprehension FTW. The poster was talking about the situation once Google has their own fiber-to-the-home network throughout the US.

          • by darthflo (1095225) *

            Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of some RF-to-the-home. Google's products tend to be automated to the max, requiring as little of their manpower as possible. Maintaining a fibre infrastructure to millions of homes is bound to require more manpower than one connecting dozens of datacentres with thousands of access points.
            Also, it'd save them years of negotiation work. If they can get their hands on a nationwide 700 MHz license, setting up and connecting a bunch of base stations is quite trivial

      • by Brackney (257949)

        You've forgotten the Google Powermeter project - http://www.google.org/powermeter [google.org]. It's not a stretch to think that if it gains traction and they put a solid analytics engine underneath all that data, Google would be well positioned to speculate in the power markets. I was puzzling over Google's business case for Powermeter a month or so back - long before the FERC application came to light. It certainly seems like it could be more ambitious than Microsoft Hohm's somewhat modest ad-based model. Enron's

      • "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Will "don't be evil" cancel that?

        No. It may be fine with Larry and Sergey, but eventually they are going to retire, and some ambitious evil person is going to make it to the top of the company. That is why we have a democracy instead of a monarchy, despite the inefficiencies: because eventually even the most enlightened monarch dies.

    • "Hasn't Enron proven without a doubt that energy trading is nothing more than a huge sham"

      Err no, it proves crooks can line their own pockets by running a successful company into the ground. Take 15 seconds to think about how power is distributed across THE grid and you will see why TRADING in the wholesale energy MARKET is common sense.

      "The ultimate question: Should we really be trading something which is necessary for modern life?"

      The ultimate answer: Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward [wikipedia.org] is generall
  • I reckon they're going to build a Thorium reactor to power their datacentres. Ever since I saw Googletalks on it, I thought this would make sense for them. Help the world (cheap, reliable nuclear energy), and help themselves (ultra cheap power).
  • i'm serious (Score:3, Funny)

    by NerdmastaX (1749114) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:08AM (#31197526)
    I think it has to do with their massive solar array... maybye we'll all get a free solar panel with the google logo to go on top of our house... and a screen beside it for ads. hell i'd get it
  • nylons and nukes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Plugh (27537) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:42AM (#31197700) Homepage

    Large, multinational corporate conglomerate, with fingers in far-ranging businesses that have less and less to do with its core competency.

    Sounds to me like a good time to get out of GOOG, before everyone realizes that a single company making nylons and nuclear weapons can't be world-class in both.

  • Smart Grid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:43AM (#31197704)
    Developing a fast cheap smart grid seems more of google's biz than actual energy production. I'm sure the have experience with their heft energy usage. Perhaps it is part of getting into that business? Likely google is just doing energy for themselves and keeping more doors open because ... that's simply being prudent.
  • Unrelated, but ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:59AM (#31197784) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to know how long it took for the whole request to be processed in the USA. A similar thing in Italy would require not less than 90 days, very likely twice as long.
    • by nemoest (69043) on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:49AM (#31198046) Journal

      From the filing:

      On December 23, 2009, as amended on January 19, 2010, pursuant to section 205 of the Federal Power Act,3 Google Energy filed an initial application for market-based rate authority with an accompanying tariff providing for the sale of energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates.

      ORDER GRANTING MARKET-BASED RATE AUTHORIZATION
      (Issued February 18, 2010)
      1. In this order, the Commission grants market-based rate authorization to Google Energy LLC (Google Energy), effective February 23, 2010, as requested.

      I'd say it was about 57 days.

  • Kinda scary that Google's doing all this financed by advertising programs on the web. Before Google is given permission to operate in a different sector it would be prudent to consider what if scenarios, because the web is fickle. I speculate that Google will be our next financial crises, maybe even economic downtown. One company cannot do everything well, not even Google. Let's hope their involvement in the energy business is just for themselves and their data centers. The fact they have to get involved
  • NEWS FLASH... today Google began marketing a new keyboard which converts finger presses into electrical energy and pushes that energy back onto the grid. A special metering system in the keyboard provides information back to Google about how much energy has been produced. The new piezo key generators provide a solid and rather pleasing tactile feedback, and and it's hoped that the billions of keys pressed every hour will produce enough energy to reduce the worlds oil dependence by a whopping 10%.

    An unnamed

    • by avij (105924) *

      ...a new keyboard which converts finger presses into electrical energy and pushes that energy back onto the grid.

      Unrelated to this story, but are there keyboards that would convert the keypresses into electricity? Or mice that'd convert the mouse movements into electricity for its own consumption? Wireless keyboard/mice without batteries?

  • by lythander (21981) on Friday February 19, 2010 @09:42AM (#31198418)

    The thing about this that proves than google is trying not to be evil (or at least that they lack subterfuge) is the name of the company. GOOGLE power. (Is the symbol a raised rainbow-colored fist?) Not a subsidiary named "Trans-co-op-national warm fuzzies" Put their name right in there.

    Google is a large corporation. The have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value. So the whole "don't be evil" thing got dialed way back when they went public (remember when everyone wanted them to go public?) US law provides huge liability to corporations who pass up money-making opportunities for the sake of morality in the form of shareholder lawsuits.

    They are expanding their portfolio of businesses to protect against shifts in markets, in ways that complement their core competencies. This is bad because they clearly know what their doing, as opposed to say, Microsoft, who grew to behemoth size on the back of only their core competency (whatever your thoughts on that), and very much despite the other business lines they chose to enter?

  • They will rename themselves to Tyrell Corporation.

    Why does this have a ominous tone? I know they are a business trying to diversify, etc.. but all that they are doing has the bad 'feel' to it.

    • They will rename themselves to Tyrell Corporation.

      Why does this have a ominous tone? I know they are a business trying to diversify, etc.. but all that they are doing has the bad 'feel' to it.

      I feel the exact opposite way. Every time Google enters a market, I get excited because they're the only company I know of that I don't feel are trying to screw me. Plus they force everyone else to step up.

      Remember the days before gmail when webmail meant 10mb of storage and they'd delete all your mail if you didn't log on in the past 30 days? Everybody else now offers more storage space than you can do with it. And IMAP access. If you don't go the Google route, the competition they bring makes everyon

  • Congratulations, you sir win /.!
  • It's time to replace all of those "Microsoft as the Borg" images with "Google as the Borg."

  • Resistance is Futile. You will Self Assimulate into the Google.

    So they aint quite "The Borg" but to my mind, they are getting to damn close to it and there's an old saying that "Knowledge(information) is Power", which looks like exactly what Google wants.

  • Many large energy users (Alcoa [alcoa.com] for example) trade energy options and futures. Since Congress closed the Enron Loophole [wikipedia.org], its not as much of a problem as when its namesake exploited it.

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