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Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-aren't-they-doing-now dept.

Google 160

necro81 writes "Google consumes massive amounts of electrical energy to power its data centers across the country and world. Now it has created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, and applied (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility-scale energy trader. Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral. It is likely that Google Energy would also permit Google's own renewable energy projects to sell their energy at more favorable rates. Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron."

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Uh huh. (5, Insightful)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696022)

Google also didn't have plans to make an operating system, a phone, a phone os, an instant messenger, a usenet application or a social network.

So yeah, this isn't Genron. Really.

Re:Uh huh. (5, Funny)

omarius (52253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696436)

2011: Google Lobby, LLC
2012: Google Government, LLC
2014: Google Arms, LLC
2016: Google Earth software is renamed "Google Globe" to avoid collision with the name of Google's corporate planet.

Re:Uh huh. (3, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696644)

2018: Google Wars begin.
2023: Google Wars end.
2024: Google Matrix goes live.

Re:Uh huh. (5, Funny)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696822)

In the year 2525
If mankind is still alive
You can google into your DNA
And download the perfect thing to say...

Re:Uh huh. (1)

xonar (1069832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697070)

*claps*

Re:Uh huh. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697676)

BURMA SHAVE

Re:Uh huh. (2, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697770)

In the year 3535
If man is still alive
Google God will listen while you pray
Check your karma then answer yea or nay
whoa whoa

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697290)

The Google Rifle: Renewable energy powered, 40 watt range.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696610)

Google = real life Massive Dynamic.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696834)

Google = real life Massive Dynamic.

I think General Dynamics might have a prior claim on that.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696940)

My recent visit there reminded me more of Veridian Dynamics.

Re:Uh huh. (3, Insightful)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696742)

Well on NPR today Google was introducing software to monitor your home electricity usage so, I call BS on their stated non-intentions.

BTW, Google knowing energy usage patterns is WAY to INTRUSIVE for my tastes.

Re:Uh huh. (0, Redundant)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696802)

Well damn I didnt see the comment below me. Sorry for redundancy. Please don't moderate down.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697270)

Google does many things that, to many people, would've been considered a major invasion of privacy a handful of years ago. Eventually our level of complacency will change to accomdate even this.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697506)

Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker

Yet.

I also heard on NPR this morning... (4, Insightful)

d474 (695126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696084)

...about Google's "Smart Meter" [google.org] for your home. It seems like Google wants to know everything about everybody. The only difference between them and other entities that what this much information is that Google's gradually arriving to that goal.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696208)

...about Google's "Smart Meter" [google.org] for your home.

Never forget Google's main money maker is not search, it is not ads and it is not applications. It is data and the statistics that are derived from that data. On top of those statistics they build the best search, the best targeted advertising and decent applications (because although they are good applications Google Docs doesn't really benefit from these statistics). There are people looking around for horizontal integration for data and statistics in all forms of our lives because that's largely an untapped natural resource in Google's eyes. The vertical integration we are talking about in this article is run of the mill business. The "Smart Meter" is slightly more innovative horizontal search. There might not even be obvious applications for this data and statistics but the engineers don't care, that's another arm of the company's job. Personally I could see that being very very lucrative if you incentivize people to adopt the Smart Meter. Nielson would look like amateurs if Google got that thing out.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (5, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696306)

Never forget Google's main money maker is not search, it is not ads and it is not applications. It is data and the statistics that are derived from that data.

Citation, please? Their shareholder prospectus says 97% of their revenue is from AdWords.

Why do you believe otherwise?

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696316)

Never forget Google's main money maker is not search, it is not ads and it is not applications. It is data and the statistics that are derived from that data.

Citation, please? Their shareholder prospectus says 97% of their revenue is from AdWords.

Why do you believe otherwise?

You should probably finish reading the post. AdWords makes money only because of the statistics Google uses to make a better targeted ad. That's what puts them in front of the pack.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (3, Insightful)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696402)

I'd love to see you prove that. Pretty sure the reason that AdWords makes money is actually because it's the eyeball dominant advertising network, which in turn is because they set it up so that anyone could join without proving themselves or talking to a salesperson or paying money, which back then was revolutionary.

I make my advertising purchase choices based on how many people are reached and the average payout per click (which is why I've largely moved away from AdWords). I don't know anyone who buys advertising based on what they imagine Google might be measuring behind the scenes.

You seem to believe that other advertising companies don't take statistics of any form. Why?

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696570)

Pretty sure the reason that AdWords makes money is actually because it's the eyeball

Citation needed.

See how annoying it is to be quoted out of context?

Nope, it's the spread. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696492)

It's the spread between the money Google collects up front from advertisers and the money it rarely pays out - how many people actually click on ads? I don't.

It's a great racket:

Hey advertisers! Get word sensitive ads placed next to topics that people are actually looking at! - They collect the money from the advertisers.

Now do the folks hosting the ads get the money? Not unless someone clicks on the ads, otherwise they get nothing from Google.

Brilliant move on Google's part.

It's even better than the extended warranty racket!

Re:Nope, it's the spread. (2, Informative)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697758)

Apparently you don't understand how Google's advertisement system works. The advertiser only pays *when* an ad is clicked.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (2, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697372)

Car analogy:

That's like saying the gas pedal is what makes the car go. Sure for 97% of drivers that's all that maters, but the real power comes from the mechanically complex portion under the hood.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697550)

What the... Same thing! Duh!

They earn money from targeted ads, called AdWords. Which are targeted to very specific groups with the use of that data. Good marketing is cost-effective, because it only costs money for being shown to people who would actually pay for it.
That’s why the data is valuable, and therefore gives AdWords a value much higher than plain showing ads to everybody.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (3, Informative)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696456)

It seems like Google wants to know everything about everybody

Of course. That's never been a secret. Right from Google's Corporate Mission [google.com] page it says:

The name [Google] reflects the immense volume of information that exists, and the scope of Google's mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

It only stands to reason that in order to organize the world's information, you have to know the information in the first place. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696514)

For a few years now I've been saying Google will ultimately build a real world "planned community." They've been acquiring/building the right stuff for years: Energy, home entertainment (via YouTube's infrastructure), telephony (Google instant messenger and their new cellphone) bikes on their headquarters campus, biodiesel shuttles, etc. etc. Even their VC component (google.org) says, "What is the focus of the fund? Google Ventures is broadly interested in startups in industries including consumer Internet, software, hardware, clean-tech, bio-tech, health care and others." Get ready for gCommunity.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (1)

Demarche (963386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696934)

You know, providing tools for the management of communities would probably do a lot of good. Vertically integrate it with individuals' accounts for extra credit. They certainly are developing a broad base of expertise. I doubt that they'd want to actually administer the communities themselves, but I could totally see them providing a comprehensive tool suite that makes running a "Don't be evil" government relatively cheap and easy.

Personally, I think it would be nice if somebody with really keen ideas disrupted the governance status quo.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696600)

All Data should be FREE!!! Except for My Data!

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (3, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697240)

I'm going to digitize my data and sell it on my own web site. Use the DMCA to go after those fuckers.

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697112)

So...?

Re:I also heard on NPR this morning... (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697274)

We have a word for that in German: Datenkrake.
Fits pretty well in English too: Data kraken.

Wants to get its hands on so many things, that it has developed tentacles. ;)

One more step to another antitrust suit (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696088)

The DoJ already has one anti-trust suit going on with Google, and several EU counties (hello, France) are also investigating. Since google is a large consumer of energy, the potential for market distortions is obvious.

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (4, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696148)

Well, we can do a search to find out what they are up to.

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696358)

When you say large, what do you mean? Like Alcoa, or something else?

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (4, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696534)

As a customer trying to get the best price for the energy it uses or produces, Google is much too small a player to distort the market. Datacenters use about 1-2% of the electricity produced in the US. Google is a large portion of that, but considering all the datacenters out there, I would be surprised if Google was even one half of the market. So, they are a customer for less than one percent of the total electricity generation in the US, spread out over all utility markets in the country. That's probably too little to distort the market.

On the other hand, within very small markets, like where they actually have datacenters, they may well be the largest local consumer. If utilities were still small fiefdoms, this could be a problem. But electricity flows across states and state lines, so it would be hard for Google to corner a market even in these small locales.

If Google were to become a major energy broker, like Enron was before its self-destruction, then we could have a problem. But we're not there yet, and that won't happen overnight, so there's no need for panic just yet.

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696942)

So, they are a customer for less than one percent of the total electricity generation in the US, spread out over all utility markets in the country. That's probably too little to distort the market.

huge customer. To put this in perspective the city of Dallas, with 6 million people in it's metro area and is the 8th largest city in the US, consumes around .35% of the total energy produced.

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (3, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696820)

Because Google is gonna leverage their "monopoly" in search to... uh... what, exactly? Buy energy?

By that same token, one would expect these governments to go after Walmart for forcing down prices on the supply-side of the chain. And yet they don't. Why? Because using your power to gain better business deals is perfectly legal.

Re:One more step to another antitrust suit (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697024)

err, maybe not so obvious. Are you saying people are getting pissy because Google want's to buy power direct?

How is that a distortion?

I rather doubt (4, Funny)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696108)

Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron."

I rather doubt anyone has plans to be "a la Enron"

Re:I rather doubt (1)

tphb (181551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696758)

Parent true. Also, Enron was not a broker. Enron was a principal on transactions. Which Google will no doubt be.

Re:I rather doubt (2, Informative)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697442)

Yes, but enron traders actually had the ability to phone up the operators at power plants and get them to shut down at the proper times to drive up the price of electricity on contracts the traders were controlling (illegal). This was possible because before they became a huge energy trading company when the markets were opened, they were an infrastructure level energy company...google does not have natural gas pipelines anywhere.

Also, while Enron's energy traders were total douches and did some pretty unethical stuff, Enron's big issue was the accounting fraud. They got into deep trouble with the basically imaginary income they were booking on other projects--the trading segment was doing fine until skilling forced his accounting through and started abusing mark to market practices.

Re:I rather doubt (1, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697002)

how about an "A la, peanut butter sandwich"?

No, I have no idea why the sesame street memory just popped up.

Re:I rather doubt (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697690)

Not? I thought that was what the media (reproduction and artist extortion) industry was straight headed for...

Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696114)

Short disclaimer, I'm not an economist so what follows is largely my own opinion and prediction.

Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral.

Some quick observations about Iowa. Back in 2008, we covered Microsoft and Google opening up half billion dollar server farms [slashdot.org] in this state because energy was supposedly cheaper there and tax incentives. Now, if you look at the year end totals [windpoweringamerica.gov] for Iowa's wind power capacity in MW you'll notice that through 2008 it jumped higher than any other year going from 1,273 to 2,791. It more than doubled. At the end of 2009 it was at 2,862 -- perhaps a result of the recession -- but also indicative of what's going on in the state. Put two and two together and I think it's obvious that wind power companies were looking to work with Google and were maybe even encouraged by Google.

You know, I was really glad to see this sort of thing happen. It was something that Google could spend money doing that would boost shareholder value while at the same time incentivizing companies to invest billions in wind power in Iowa with a lengthy ten year or more plan to gain that money back before they start to turn serious profits. If Google gets these wind power plants up and running, ten years from now we the consumers might be enjoying a price war between wind power fields generating electricity on equipment that has been paid for and now just needs maintenance fees. Think about it, a whole infrastructure springing up on Google's promises and investor's dimes being slowly amortized back up to very profitable and freaking awesome for ma and pa corn grower. The economy would go nuts if you could alleviate energy costs for everyone. In addition to the slow and welcomed change, the industries that will be negatively affected (coal, gas, etc) by these price wars will have the time to realize and change or better yet invest in their own wind farms. If this model is proven successful, tornado alley could in fifty years become the new middle east and we'll be fighting wind wars over South Dakota and Kansas.

Now, back to the story, this vertical integration strategy is awesome for the company but I don't like it for two reasons. 1) In my opinion it is a step down the path to a weak version of a monopoly and competition deterrent 2) If Google influences these companies too much or worse buys them out, we might never see a price war I mentioned above. These are distant fears and after the Ma Bell and Microsoft monopolies/anti-trusts/Sherman Act prosecutions, I trust the DoJ won't sit idly by if point one or two become uncomfortable truths.

Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron.

That kind of reassures me.

Overly optimistic? Of course. A little unrealistic? Well, a man can dream, can't he? A man can dream.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (4, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696262)

Put two and two together and I think it's obvious that wind power companies were looking to work with Google and were maybe even encouraged by Google.

The Power company in Green Bay, WI spent a few hundred million building a wind farm in Iowa (a few hundred miles away). There is a new law here that power companies have to have a certain percentage of their power renewable. Since the wind doesn't blow as much in Green Bay (if only they could get power from the cold, or the hatred of Brett Farve and the Vikings), it is cheaper and easier for them to build it in Iowa, then sell it, over the transmission networks, to themselves.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696394)

Did they try hooking some bikes up to generators and setting them up at Lambeau?

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696868)

...if only they could get power from the cold,

Well, you can actually get power by using the cold and the warmer underground temperature to power a heat differential engine. A lot of industrial operations in Canada have located themselves near flooded mines to take advantage of the stored underground heat for cheap, clean power; although the oil companies have been doing their best to buy up and shut down every company that specializes in creating such systems as I understand.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697196)

That's kind of crazy since Lake Michigan is among the strongest wind sites near a population center in the entire country. I guess the tech for building the towers in a few hundred feet of water is still too expensive to offset the significant cost of building up the transmission infrastructure in the middle of Iowa fields.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696464)

With any luck, it will become economically stupid for people living in northern Minnesota to not put solar panels on their roof.

(It is already vaguely reasonable for people in sunny areas to do so)

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696566)

I doubt that wind power increase has anything to do with Google Servers Farms because usually the Wind Power is more expensive. (Yes, unless it's subsidized, it's)
Google is probably just afraid of the Cap and Trade taxation of the Carbon (stupid tax, C2O is not related to Warming) and want to prevent the cost increase in the energy. (normal energy is cheaper, but with (stupid) Cap and Trade it can end up being more expensive.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696762)

No. It's probably because they actually want to pollute less.

I'm not exactly sure what C2O is supposed to be, but CO2 is generally considered to be a factor in global warming/climate change.

As far as cheaper v. more expensive I believe that after the cost is to pay for the start up/construction. Once that's out of the way it is merely supply and demand that drives price.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697176)

C-20 has such a short half-life that it doesn't have much effect on the climate.

Re: Subsidies (2, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697046)

I don't think you're counting the U.S. Military as a subsidy, but IIRC most of our road trips in the last century boiled down to preserving our control over the lands vital to our energy interests. Repatriating our energy supply would make our military mostly redundant, IMHO.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696606)

i"this vertical integration strategy is awesome for the company but I don't like it for two reasons"

You mean like how a corporation such as General Electric is into

finance
aviation
healthcare
electric power plants
oil
media
consumer appliances
military

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_General_Electric [wikipedia.org]

While everyone is worried about what google might do in the future, other corporations that are bigger than google are already doing worrisome things.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (2, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696726)

Again, I'm neither an economist or businessman.

i"this vertical integration strategy is awesome for the company but I don't like it for two reasons"

You mean like how a corporation such as General Electric is into

finance aviation healthcare electric power plants oil media consumer appliances military

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_General_Electric [wikipedia.org]

No. When I say 'vertical integration' I am referring to something more along the lines of Google depending on networks and energy for its main business. So what does it do? It starts making its own network solutions and slowly entering energy. That's vertical because they start to invest in become more of their stack. After all, when you're that big, why pay a premium so that another company can turn a profit? Just enter that market and become your own provider! It's a great idea in businesses.

To a lesser extent, I hate what you mentioned. That is horizontal integration. Where they use their money (and maybe expertise) to enter another market separate from their own (often unrelated). GE got into health care just because analysts identified it as a cash cow recently. A cash cow with no one taking advantage of it. So GE entered that market. They had lots of electronics and other applications, but nothing really in health care.

While everyone is worried about what google might do in the future, other corporations that are bigger than google are already doing worrisome things.

Companies have the right to expand. We deal with it by putting a few simple laws out there that protect a free market (please, please don't lay into me about how it's not a truly free market and I'm an idiot, I tire of that conversation) and to allow entrance by small competitors. Because these things benefit the consumer and that's what matters in the end.

It's only worrisome when it negatively affects the consumer. If GE used its weight to force their health care down our throats even though it sucked, I'd be upset. Let's wait and see, maybe they'll offer better products at lower prices? Or perhaps it will prove to be an economic folly for them -- which everyone should be entitled to make and risk.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696966)

It's only worrisome when it negatively affects the consumer.

I think you meant to say "it's only worrisome when it creates the risk of negatively affecting the consumer". The notion that "it's okay to do X until it hurts someone" is an argument that has been pretty well run into the ground.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (4, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696642)

I lunch with an economist. You and I are not economists. But he's teaching me.

"Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral."

Sure. price has nothing to do with it. Uhuh. Color me cynical.

"ten years from now we the consumers might be enjoying a price war between wind power fields generating electricity on equipment that has been paid for and now just needs maintenance fees."

Same argument for nuclear power in the 60s. 'too cheap to meter'. I predict the same results for windpewer.

"slowly amortized back up to very profitable and freaking awesome for ma and pa corn grower. The economy would go nuts if you could alleviate energy costs for everyone."

Price has little to do with cost. It is the market. If oil- and coal-generated electicity is sold for 14/kwh, nuclear power can sell for the same, no problem. Why would windpower outfits sell for less than, say, 11/kwh? They are leaving money on the table. Not many corporations do that.

"industries that will be negatively affected (coal, gas, etc) by these price wars will have the time to realize and change or better yet invest in their own wind farms"

Or different petroleum supplies. Or nuclear. Or something else. Don't think they will choose for any other reason than profits.

"tornado alley could in fifty years become the new middle east and we'll be fighting wind wars over South Dakota and Kansas."

Um, California, Iowa, and a lot of other places have more potential. The wars in South Dakota and Kansas will be over migratory birds and turbine kills, noise (even in the middle nowhere, trust me on this), and the blight. Billboards are bad enough. Wind turbines are not pretty to everyone.

"Overly optimistic? Of course. A little unrealistic? Well, a man can dream, can't he? A man can dream."

Cling to your optimism. If it is all you have left, they can't take it away from you. Of course, you can give up. I just howe you don't.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697036)

"ten years from now we the consumers might be enjoying a price war between wind power fields generating electricity on equipment that has been paid for and now just needs maintenance fees."

Same argument for nuclear power in the 60s. 'too cheap to meter'. I predict the same results for windpewer.

Everything's got problems. And wind power isn't going to be our only solution. T. Boone Pickens demonstrated someone getting in too far over their head too fast in this market [slashdot.org] . I really wish he would explain to everyone what went wrong with his plans. Who knows? The cement for the bases could get too expensive? The farmers in Iowa that selling small plots of land for what looks like a lot of money to have a wind mill in the corner of your field might wise up, form a coalition and start gouging. The copper prices and turbines could explode in price with an immediate high demand. I don't know, but there's the obvious problem we now know about nuclear power and wind mills have lesser problems with wildlife, growing pains and natural elements causing maintenance headaches. We're a lot smarter than we were in the 60s.

"slowly amortized back up to very profitable and freaking awesome for ma and pa corn grower. The economy would go nuts if you could alleviate energy costs for everyone."

Price has little to do with cost. It is the market. If oil- and coal-generated electicity is sold for 14/kwh, nuclear power can sell for the same, no problem. Why would windpower outfits sell for less than, say, 11/kwh? They are leaving money on the table. Not many corporations do that.

This leads to the second point of why I don't like vertical integration. If these wind fields remain independent of each other and owned and operated by different folks, they will at some point stop competing with coal and gas and start competing with themselves. That's distant but that's what I was talking about. After they pay for their equipment they'll take it down as low as they can go to undercut the other wind farm. Just like it should be with coal even though it's not.

"industries that will be negatively affected (coal, gas, etc) by these price wars will have the time to realize and change or better yet invest in their own wind farms"

Or different petroleum supplies. Or nuclear. Or something else. Don't think they will choose for any other reason than profits.

Ask someone from Iowa what they'd prefer: a nuclear power plant or a field of wind mills in their backyard. Unfounded fears do affect the markets. The petroleum process is as big and cut down to as cheap as possible as it is. More supplies ain't going to change much.

Um, California, Iowa, and a lot of other places have more potential.

Tornado alley stretches from northern Texas up to Minnesota and is very wide. See these NREL maps [windpoweringamerica.gov] . You correctly mention the problems. They will be weighed against the problems we have now and will face in the future.

Cling to your optimism. If it is all you have left, they can't take it away from you. Of course, you can give up. I just howe you don't.

My dad helped pour the foundations for 71 windmills costing $100 million on Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota near Lake Benton. It's probably not paid for yet but you can bet that it will be soon, I wish I could know more from that company. That was funded by a California company sending the energy to people in Chicago to combat brownouts. Years later my hometown of Marshall built a smaller bank of windmills to increase our energy resources. I don't just have optimism, I have proof that the change has started. Now how far will it go?

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (2, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697598)

Well, the argument about windpower having less impact than nuclear is interesting. Of course, hydro power in the east may have been the single most damaging presusre on Atlantic Salmon, denying access to spawning grounds just as they were being overfished. Hydro power is by no means low impact, but we tolerated it. Can I propose that hydro has caused much more environmental damange then nuclear worldwide, including Three Mile Island and Chernoby? Of course, hydro has a head start, so this may be unfair over the long haul. And Thorium reactors might make nuclear much safer and more practical.

And you WISH windpower would compete with itself. It already does, actually, competing for a limited capital pool and limited specific demand for 'green power' sources. And other 'green power' sources. In that respect, I think it's game on.

There are some great Texas sites that have potential. Consistent wind seems to be the desire. I live in Arizona, so I'm watching solar power. The sun is consistent down here, and there are designs that can even produce power when the sun is obscured for days. And in the night.

We'll need a mix of technologies, just as we have now, and a way to retrofit existing generators. Not easy. Not cheap. This will cost us more, just the way it is.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697056)

Global Warming [foxnews.com]

Nice little quip about global warming, that. Hope you know that it's pure partisan trolling, easily 10x more trite and conspiratorial than anything climate researchers have been talking about. Had I mod points, you would have been going down for that.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697276)

Billboards are bad enough. Wind turbines are not pretty to everyone.

The difference between the two is that turbines are actually useful for something.

On a personal side, I actually do find the look of wind turbines rather aesthetically pleasing.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697624)

Price has little to do with cost. It is the market. If oil- and coal-generated electicity is sold for 14/kwh, nuclear power can sell for the same, no problem. Why would windpower outfits sell for less than, say, 11/kwh? They are leaving money on the table. Not many corporations do that.

The point is that a heap of extra generating capacity with a low cost floor will drive prices down in the market. If a given industry or in this case generation method is SO profitable, everybody else piles in and invests in it, increasing capacity until the sale price achieves an 'average' level of profit.

The question you should be asking is "if wind power costs 4/kWh to generate, who will buy coal power at 14/kWh when wind can sell profitably at 6/kWh?". This situation depends though on a large amount of wind generation and an effecient trading market for the power, which the developments discussed will go towards achieving.

Or different petroleum supplies. Or nuclear. Or something else. Don't think they will choose for any other reason than profits.

If there was some magical cheap alternative fuel source available to them they would already use it. This 'evil profit' motive is ALREADY IN OPERATION, and in any case even if things panned out as you suggested, and generators responded to the increased availability of cheap wind power with cheaper 'conventional' supplies, that would STILL result in cheaper power for consumers.

Re:Tornado Alley Could Be the New Middle East (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696984)

Of course they worked with google, and MS, and anyone else who is putting in something that consumes a lot of electricty. It's patently obvious.

SO what if Google becomes an energy broker? it eill be one of many, and have to play by the rules.

"tornado alley could in fifty years become the new middle eas"

hahahaha, except there is a problem, Tornadoes wreck havoc on windmills.

Wind is a poor general solution to the energy situation.

IFrs and Industrial Solar Thermal are the best options for base power right now.

Windmills are great is some areas, and have some great uses. Like generating power near damns and using the power to pump up water from the base of the damn to use again later in response to demand.

Creating a culture of dependency (2, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696158)

Is a great way of increasing your control over society.

If you want to take over the world you need people who rely on you not only for internet search but more basic things like energy, food, communications (like all the fibre optic cables Google controls)

Right now if google went away I'd just go back to using yahoo for search, my life won't change much but if Google does all your computing for you in De Cloud via HTTP, supplies you with power and internet (Google TiSP), organises your transport via driverless pod then it becomes a bit harder to tell them to go f*** themselves with their privacy-invading ways.

Re:Creating a culture of dependency (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696500)

like all the fibre optic cables Google controls

Google is not a major player in telecom, go ahead and nix that out of your conspiracy theories.
Interstate fiber is controlled by traditional telecom companies that you have heard of and many that you haven't.
Names like Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, Level 3, US Signal, and Zayo come to mind.
I know there were rumors of google buying up dark fiber a while back, but the fiber is pretty useless if you don't have a presence in all the central offices along the routes.
It might be useful along metro routes to connect their data centers directly, but there is no point in Google spending a ton of capital to build up an interstate transport network and enter an already competitive telecom market.

Re:Creating a culture of dependency (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696558)

I agree this move is probably to offer more comprehensive hosting services in the future as well as try and cheapen their own costs. But the whole "control over society" bit is out there. For better or for worse they're just a company looking out for that bottom line. I don't think they're trying to be the federal gov't as you seem to be suggesting.

m$ could easily generate more energy than Google (2, Funny)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696218)

if at Ballmers next team talk all the employees pulled out their Nexus Ones to photograph him.

One-upmanship (1)

FozE_Bear (1093167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696252)

And now microsoft is going to try to buy Hoover Damn. Gotta keep up with the Joneses.

Re:One-upmanship (1)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696332)

And now microsoft is going to try to buy Hoover Dam. Gotta keep up with the Joneses.

There, fixed that for you. The

Hoover Damn

I believe was the site of the Transformers movie. You know, the "under the Hoover 'damnnnnnn' " part. /sigh... crawling back into hole.

I've seen this before: (1, Redundant)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696336)

Welcome to the start of the Matrix..

Makes sense if they use renewables (3, Informative)

Laxator2 (973549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696346)

I worked in the energy market, specifically in electricity (not as a trader). First, Enron pretty much invented the market for electricity ("power trading"), it was the (mis)management that sunk the company. The problem with renewables, and wind in particular, is the unpredictability. You can end up with a lot of power delivered to you and you may end up paying somebody to get rid of it, as you cannot consume it all. So if Google wants to buy wind power for its own consumption, it makes all the sense in the world to enter the market and trade as well.

Re:Makes sense if they use renewables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696496)

You touched on something I never understood about wind power. When it gets so windy that the marginal price for power becomes negative (i.e. they have to pay somebody to get rid of the power), why not just shut off the damn turbines?

dom

Re:Makes sense if they use renewables (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697502)

The idea is that you don't pay someone to get rid of it. You find someone who needs it and sell it to them.

I've heard that... (3, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696370)

If you type "google" into google it'll break the internet.

IT Crowd (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697058)

Smoke and Mirrors [2.5]

John: I don't think that's true.
Jen: With all due respect John, I am the head of IT and I have it on good authority. If you type "Google" into Google, you can break the Internet. So please, no one try it, even for a joke. (the executives laugh) It's not a laughing matter. You can break the Internet!

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_IT_Crowd [wikiquote.org]

The third season is really great if you didn't catch it.

Am I the only one getting scared of Google? (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696372)

Yes, I know the "Do no evil" thing... and who really believes it's not actually "Do no evil [to our shareholders]"?

But Google is beginning to sprawl into some extremely creative areas and the amount of data it can collect on people is probably among the most detailed of any single entity out there. I actually don't know how close Google is to any given government or government agency or what its compliance history is with its decisions to comply with [morally] questionable requests made by government, but I seem to recall a recent story talking about Google and China.

For what it's worth, I am still using Google as my default search engine... I am not sure I am that scared of them yet.

Re:Am I the only one getting scared of Google? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696850)

Since Google has done things that shareholder weren't happy about. In fact, the put tons of resources into areas that aren't in line with the current shareholder mentality of most corporation. i.e. RnD

2010 Antitrust Revival? - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696386)

I wish, but not only would that add proof to the claim that antitrust laws only apply to the tech industry, it would shift attention away from other industries that badly need to be stratified.

The Google monolith grows regardless. There could be some positive aspects to this; if Google creates market incentives to build valuable and reliable renewable energy infrastructure throughout the nation, the benefits should be fairly obvious. However, combined with news of their 'smart meter' and Google's obvious desire for a lucrative information monopoly, I'm not sure I feel comfortable having them at the helm of any infrastructure project. We'll just have to see what happens.

Energy is out there (2, Interesting)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696460)

The more I think about it, from a physicist POV, energy is always out there. It's waiting for us to tap it.

If Google want's to use it's resources to try and tap some of the energy that is out there, and in a way that is good for our planet/society, I say game on.

Re:Energy is out there (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697862)

If Google want's to use it's resources to try and tap some of the energy that is out there, and in a way that is good for our planet/society, I say game on.

Of course! If it's done in a way that is good for our planet/society, then we all say 'game on.' How many more times are we, as a society, going to be burned by some megacorp before we wake up and realize that businesses (and governments) *must* be run at least minimally ethically. All too often, "corporate personhood" is used as a shield to protect the mere acquisition of money as if that's the end-all-be-all of doing any sort of business with no repercussions. Regardless of the idea that a business' sole existence is to make money for shareholders or whatever, does in no way excuse the owners and operators of that business from acting ethically and morally.

All I can say, ultimately, is that if "it's too big to fail" then it's too big to stop as well.

I've been suspicious for a while (0, Troll)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696502)

One day, it hit me how much access that Google has to my life and my data. I still use gmail, but I uninstalled all of the Google desktop applications from my home and work machines. I now actively avoid Google applications that in any way can be associated with my person.

Re:I've been suspicious for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697068)

OK, I agree with you on principle.

Just a personal (off-topic but related) question.
Do you use Windows?

From the computer to energy... what's next?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696532)

The google party? Google state? When will it end? Who will stop them? Google has, without a doubt, come out with a lot of good products (their search engine, Gmail, Nexus) Almost everybody with a PC has used at least two of their services once!

Who's watching them? What is their master business plan (other than more money)?

All this can result into good products and services that other companies cannot compete, however, this leaves them with too much control where with the flip of a switch things can easily go wrong.

Google Randolph Hearst (1)

m93 (684512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696666)

This vaguely reminds me of William Randolph Hearst's stake in the paper industry, which was a supported his main business, which was major print media. From Wikipedia: Jack Herer and others argue that Hearst's paper empire (he owned hundreds of acres of timber forests and a vast number of paper mills designed to manufacture paper from wood pulp) in the early 1930s was threatened by hemp, which: 1) like wood pulp, could also be used to manufacture paper[12] and 2) also had an advantage over wood pulp, because it could be regrown yearly as well.[12]

Google Electricity (3, Funny)

tomcode (261182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696672)

Does this mean every time I turn on a lamp I'm going to get hit with half a dozen ads for matching coffee tables?

Or should I just flip the light switch marked "I'm feeling lucky?"

Re:Google Electricity (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696732)

f u cn rd ths u cn gt a gd jb n cmptr prgmng

F u 2!! ;)

Welcome to the Google Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30696812)

The way it's going, I am gleefully awaiting announcement of the Google Republic.

Once large, wave powered data-centers are combined into a large floating terabit-networked landmass it will be a utopia for nerds and techs alike.

Put your data centers in the desert (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696826)

Build an industrial solar thermal plant right next to it,
Sell excess energy.

Hell, take a billion and build a 50 Gw IST array.

Re:Put your data centers in the desert (0, Flamebait)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697778)

problem with that is most of the energy will be spent cooling that same datacenter ...

What is up with the scare mongering? (4, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30696846)

Everywhere i read i see posts from astroturfers pretending to be very concerned about their privacy. Lambasting Google for all they are worth and trying to purport them as a very evil and vile company.

The thing is, Google hasnt got half of the information many other sources has like twitter, facebook etc. The problem isnt that Google has access to vast amount of data. To provide good search technology and ad placement they have to analyze things, just like every other ad network does, like Microsofts for eg.

The problem isnt Google or Microsoft Bing but rather that the governments can demand any and all information about you at a whim. Not just from Google but from your bank, healtcare, utilities, ISP, telephone companies, other sites etc etc. If the information about your searches etc isnt at google its somewhere else. The only way to avoid getting stuff logged is to get off the net.

This problem is so easy to understand that its blatantly clear that this is all part of a campaign to paint Google as an evil company. Instead you should put pressure on the politicians to stop snooping into your life and write strong privacy laws. A small number of people are so stupid they fall for the Microsoft astroturfing but one would think people on slashdot would understand perfectly whats going on.

Re:What is up with the scare mongering? (4, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697766)

This problem is so easy to understand that its blatantly clear that this is all part of a campaign to paint Google as an evil company.

Personally, i think it has more to do with people seeing the story before them and knee-jerk reacting to it. Google analyzes a lot of data and has a lot of information based on it yes, so when it comes up in conversation the paranoia kicks in and the diatribes come out. I don't think it has anything to do with any organized campaign against google in any sense of it. They are not doing the same for the more obvious cases of concern because 1. they're used to those and 2. they are not being raised as the topic of conversation.

It is a rather common exploitable bit of human psychology that people react this way. It's kinda like how the media had america in a huge pep rally shouting match over privatized insurance versus government run insurance, when all the while no one was discussing the real problem that is that health care pricing is through the roof in america. Everyone was used to it being so expensive and no one was discussing the cost, so everyone ranted about how it was going to be paid instead.

James Bond (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697006)

The way things are starting to look, I would be surprised if in a few years all Google employees are to be given guns and told to be on the lookout for a suave, British spy.

G.E? (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697016)

So now there's General Electric (GE), and looks like Google wants to have Google Energy (GE). I wonder if they two will overlap?

Looks like Google is more affectionate towards becoming the next General Electric than IBM or Microsoft. Needless to say, General Electric has quite the history - several decades longer than IBM's (1850's vs. 1890's). In Google's short history (1990's to present) they seem to have diversified the company quite fast into numerous markets - more along the lines of how General Electric is diversified. Comparatively, Microsoft has a longer history (1970's to present), which most of its diversification occurring since roughly 1996 - prior, Microsoft was software only and heavily centric on their own products - even today they still tend to be but now they have some hardware and services mixed in; Google probably still puts them to shame in diversity of products though, or at least it is very close.

Energy brokerages (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697094)

If you have yet to read into the history of Enron, then better jump into a wiki or the newsies and dig. Enron's books were cooked to the point they were past charcoal. Power corrupts, but cash corrupts all, both weak and strong. If Google turns into one such brokerage, I hope that they keep a tight reign on their cash flow.

Stay green with Google (1)

tronkel (1128393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697130)

Now I'll need to find a way of hooking up AdBlock to my electricity meter!

This reminds me of a comedy bit I saw once (2, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697654)

Man, I completely don't remember, now, where I saw this, but I remember seeing a clip at the beginning of a comedy movie from like the 1940 or 1950's or something, where one guy is sent out by his wife to sell pies, and he meets a friend, and they get to talking (while the 'friend' starts eating the pies that are supposed to be sold), and they start up a discussion where they talk about starting a pie company.

As the discussion goes along, the guy who was gonna start the pie company decides that, in order to keep his costs down, and to generate additional revenue streams, he's gonna buy steel mills (for the metal to make the pie tins from), flour mills, wheat farms and sugar cane plantations, a paper company, a printer (to print labels and advertising), railroads (cheaper shipping around the country), telephone companies, banks - basically, the guy decides he needs to buy the whole economy so that he can get the best price on every product and service which is even peripherally associated with making and selling pies.

Google Energy, LLC just brought that to mind. Not saying it's a bad idea, but by the time they're done, Google is either going to be broke, or buy everything.

Clifford Simak "Empire" (1)

F0RR (1464631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697764)

Nuff said.

Google Energy LLC - Energy Trader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697810)

Welcome to Enron 2.0!

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