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Google Explains Why It Became an Energy Trader

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-pulling-an-enron dept.

Earth 112

angry tapir writes "Google has explained how it might use its status as an energy-trading company to increase the use of renewable energy sources in its data centers. In February, the company's Google Energy subsidiary received approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to buy and sell power on the wholesale market."

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More crazy US laws. (5, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074092)

It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using 'waste'.

So say you run a heat-treat process. You don't have much incentive to install a way to reprocess that heat. I wish I could remember the TLC/Discovery/History channel special that they had about it...

By becoming an 'energy trader' I'm wondering if Google can skirt these laws and make their data centers more efficient or even energy negative.

Re:More crazy US laws. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074204)

It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using 'waste'.

Okay, you're going to have to explain that. (ie [citation needed]).

(And, if you're generating it, it would be "sell", not "resell", wouldn't it?)

Re:More crazy US laws. (3, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074338)

(And, if you're generating it, it would be "sell", not "resell", wouldn't it?)

Depends on your viewpoint. Waste heat from electronics is just the energy your purchased with it's form converted. If you convert it BACK to electrical energy, you could be considered to be REselling it. This is opposed to hydro, geothermal, solar etc where the original form was never actually purchased. Coal, nuclear, etc might still be considered "reselling" even for the power company though since in those cases you do buy a material with stored energy.

Either way though, pointing out these differences is just being a pedantic ass, but I suppose turnabout is fair play.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32076810)

No, being a pedantic ass would be pointing out that you still don't know how to use the apostrophe. Why don't you yank the key out with some pliers until you learn the mind-boggling, awe-inspiring and complex difference between ITS and IT IS?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32080088)

If you convert it BACK to electrical energy, you could be considered to be REselling it

That doesn't make any sense. If you have the ability to recapture waste heat back into electricity, why wouldn't you simply re-loop it into your data center for consumption? At this point, your just being a more efficient with your overall energy usage.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075144)

Say I have a foundry or factory that does heat treatment of metal.

Every morning it takes me 2MW* to fire up my furnace, however it only takes me 100kW to keep it running each day.

Now most of that 100kW just goes to make up for the heat loss, heat that could easily be recovered through numerous methods currently available. However current laws say that I can't sell back any of that energy.

During the day I could use that electricity to reduce my 100kW load, however once quitting time comes around, I COULD dump that power back to the grid. However current laws prevent that.

So I have a few options:
1) Try to figure out how to store that electricity and reduce my 2MW load in the morning
2) Ignore it and just heat up the environment.
3) Sell it back to the grid.

Electricity has historically been 'cheap' enough that no one cared and just choose #2. #3 has been illegal and #1 has just been too expensive with a very long payment on investment.

And I don't know if it just applied to electricity. Imagine that there is a factory that is within a few miles of a school or subdivision. I'm not sure if the factory could sell steam to heat the school.

It's just something I saw on TV once and how electricity is becoming so expensive that heat recovery systems are starting to pay for themselves, but stuff is still expensive.

* I'm completely making numbers up. IF someone could speak up on how much energy this takes please do.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075352)

There was no need to state you were making the numbers up, since Watt is the unit of power (energy tranformed per unit time), the statement "2MW to fire up my furnace" is meaningless anyhow.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32077512)

Watt is the unit of power

Well, since we're talking about powering a device here, this is precisely the reason to use Watts as the unit in this case, instead of, say, kilograms.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078960)

Think of it as consuming 2MW for some initial "warm up" period of time to get to the initial temperature, then dropping to the lower rate of consumption. Not 2MW instantaneously (which makes no sense) then 100kW the rest of the day.

I don't work for a heat treatment / stress relief company, but I do work for a fabricator that occasionally makes use of one. They fire the ovens before they open so they get up to temperature before the main workers arrive, as it takes a while to get the ovens up to temp. They run them hot enough that the aluminum ID tags we put on each piece come out about the consistency of slightly cool butter if we forget to remove one before sending them out.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074254)

Yeah. Energy negative. In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Re:More crazy US laws. (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074300)

Like gravity, thermodynamics is more than a good idea, it's the law.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075060)

It's like I tell my ex-wife, I never drive faster than I can see. Besides, its all in the reflexes.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

JAZ (13084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075986)

Yes, sir.. the check is in the mail.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075038)

Because obviously a data center is an example of a closed system...

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075754)

Why does that matter, the law in question isn't restricted to closed systems:

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

emjay88 (1178161) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078544)

How do you propose a data center can produce more power than it consumes (presumably while still performing it's function as a data center)?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Agarax (864558) | more than 4 years ago | (#32080904)

If you have solar panels there is a situation where you could /possibly/ be producing more energy than you are consuming.

Re:More crazy US laws. (3, Interesting)

sigipickl (595932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074328)

What? You better tell that to the thousands of dumps across the country burning 'waste' methane to produce electricity to sell.

Many industrial facilities also produce energy from waste heat and manufacturing bi-products. It's called co-generation. For example, many cement manufacturers burn natural gas (among other things) to produce lime-ash. They take the waste heat and produce steam to turn generating turbines, often producing more electricity than they use.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1, Funny)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074426)

"often producing more electricity than they use"

Guys, seriously? Welcome to hyperbole 104. We will teach you to exaggerate in ways that are believable, but still carry impact. For instance, in the example, we see someone clearly talking out their ass. This speaker has forgotten that this is a techie site, and that thermodynamics isn't negotiable. We might say instead, "often generating significant portions of the original energy input". Now, we might also want to give it a bit more kick. So we could say "often generating huge amounts of power" This of course ignores the fact that it takes absolutely massive amounts of power in the first place, but what the read doesn't know, won't cause them to think you are a moron.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074486)

So uh... if you only look at electricity generated and used, the GP actually could have it correct. Thermodynamics just states that [output electricity] [input electricity]

Assuming we're only dealing with the second stage steam plant.

Re:More crazy US laws. (4, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074490)

I simply read it as: they burn more natural gas for lime-ash, using the heat from the lime-ash process to turn turbines. This generates more electricity than is required by their day to day operations. Thus, more electricity than they use. The excess electricity is then sold. Nothing there violates your sacred law. I think you just skipped over the part about burning natural gas.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Zediker (885207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074754)

Correct, especially when the natural gas could be contained within the limestone itself, thus unlocking it during processing. It would technically be possible to have more energy unlocked than it took to unlock it. However, it still took as much energy to put it there in the first place, however that was all done by biological and geological processes millions of years ago.

Re:More crazy US laws. (2, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074492)

"often producing more electricity than they use"

Guys, seriously? Welcome to hyperbole 104.

No, it isn't uncommon for manufacturing to produce more electricity than it consumes, and it doesn't violate thermodynamics. Hint: the GP didn't write "energy" in that quotation.

Re:More crazy US laws. (5, Informative)

FluffyWithTeeth (890188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074514)

GP said electricity, not energy, they could well be producing more electricity than they use.

For an example of an industry producing more electricity than it uses, may I point you towards something called "power stations"?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074592)

For an example of an industry producing more electricity than it uses, may I point you towards something called "power stations"?

Battery manufacturing plants? Can't take that much to make an AA or a watch battery.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075030)

No need to come up with more examples. It's possible to make any industry produce more electricity than it generates as long as it uses an energy source other than electricity, or someone else is expending the energy on your behalf. For the former, just hook your machinery up to enough windmills or waterwheels to fully power it, then use any excess kinetic energy to drive a turbine. Battery manufacturers are basically doing the latter, since an alkaline battery uses zinc. Zinc does not occur in a pure form in nature (at least, not in usable quantities on this planet's surface). So they have to purify it, either by a two stage heating process or by passing electricity through it. Either way, more energy was used to make the battery than it will ever produce, and in the latter case, it's electrically negative even before you create the actual battery.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

G00F (241765) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075068)

For an example of an industry producing more electricity than it uses, may I point you towards something called "power stations"?

Battery manufacturing plants? Can't take that much to make an AA or a watch battery.

A single AA holds about 4.2 watt-hours, assume 9.8 cents/kwh, the power would cost about $0.0004. The battery when purchased cheap in bulk cost about $0.85 each. Over a 200,000% markup. Which would suggest, at least to me, that the energy used to produce that battery takes a lot more than you get out of it.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075340)

As always, you're just paying for their damned shiny packaging!

In bulk? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075640)

half that- with free shipping 42 cents each when I buy 50

http://tinyurl.com/239gklp [tinyurl.com]

HELL, 20 pack of duracell is 54 cents each with free shipping at amazon

where the hell do you buy batteries from?

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074524)

You're a fucking idiot. He clearly said they were burning natural gas and using waste heat to generate more electricity than they use. What part of reading comprehension did you fail, moron?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074608)

I don't know what is wrong with his statement. Last time I checked, power plants produce more electricity than they use without violating any thermodynamic principles...
Presumably they are converting the stored energy in the waste into electricity, much as a coal fired plant might convert the chemical energy in the coal into electricity.

Re:More crazy US laws. (3, Interesting)

sigipickl (595932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074960)

Lighten up, Francis....

I wasn't challenging the laws of thermodynamics, I was challenging the parent comment "It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using waste".

As for my resume', I'll spare you the details, but my background is in energy and energy transmission contracts- more specifically, natural gas sourced co-generation.

Besides the "illegal" comment from the parent post, the statement "You don't have much incentive to install a way to reprocess that heat", is BS. There are thousands of facilities here in California selling electricity produced from 'waste' heat as a bi-product of their primary business. There are incentives for doing this- specifically, decreased natural gas transmission costs for BTUs put back on to the grid in the form of electricity (electricity that they market themselves or sell through marketers). Check out http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/ [ca.gov] and search 'cogeneration'. It's a huge industry here in CA and is heavily 'incentive-ised' and subsidized as an alternative to building power plants.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076518)

Yeah, but why introduce truth and logic to a perfectly good irrational argument?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32077906)

In case it wasn't clear, I was attempting (and failing) to be amusing. Not to actually call you out. My background ISNT in heavy industry at all, so I really don't have any idea what goes on.

Used to be that even a half assed thermodynamics joke would get a +5. /. in decline, I suppose. (or arguably, getting better)

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Agarax (864558) | more than 4 years ago | (#32080942)

Lighten up, Francis....

I wasn't challenging the laws of thermodynamics, I was challenging the parent comment "It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using waste".

As for my resume', I'll spare you the details, but my background is in energy and energy transmission contracts- more specifically, natural gas sourced co-generation.

Besides the "illegal" comment from the parent post, the statement "You don't have much incentive to install a way to reprocess that heat", is BS. There are thousands of facilities here in California selling electricity produced from 'waste' heat as a bi-product of their primary business. There are incentives for doing this- specifically, decreased natural gas transmission costs for BTUs put back on to the grid in the form of electricity (electricity that they market themselves or sell through marketers). Check out http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/ [ca.gov] and search 'cogeneration'. It's a huge industry here in CA and is heavily 'incentive-ised' and subsidized as an alternative to building power plants.

Hi. Welcome to Slashdot. We don't believe in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, good Republicans, or a rational argument.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074742)

When I toured the local wastewater treatment plant about, oh, nine years ago or so, they told us about how they could extract methane from the plant and generate their own electricity.

They didn't. Buying power from the local electric utility was cheaper.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074788)

Why is that strange? Wouldn't you expect the electric utility to be much more efficient at producing electricity?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075076)

Not when the electric utility has to pay for their raw energy source (assuming it's not wind/solar/hydro), whereas the wastewater plant is paid to receive it's energy input.

It may cost more up front to install the equipment, and it may cost more in a typical 3- to 5-year ROI, but over the long term the costs should be lower unless the maintenance and repair costs dominate.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075554)

They had all the equipment installed, and had used it in the past, so I believe it was because of the maintenance costs.

Re:More crazy US laws. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32076274)

So once again, America gets fucked by union labor.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

MaroonMotor (967664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075634)

In general one would expect the utility to be more efficient, yes. But it is not obvious that a captive power plant with *free* fuel (methane) would not be cheaper than the local utility. They probably had to run the numbers to confirm that it was so.

Re:More crazy US laws. (2, Informative)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074336)

It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using 'waste'.

So say you run a heat-treat process. You don't have much incentive to install a way to reprocess that heat. I wish I could remember the TLC/Discovery/History channel special that they had about it...

By becoming an 'energy trader' I'm wondering if Google can skirt these laws and make their data centers more efficient or even energy negative.

I'm curious how you think this could make them energy negative. The entire article was about the face that they have multi-year contracts to lock in their rates, and previously they either had to overlap the contracts (i.e. purchase something they're not using) or pass on good deals. Nowhere do they discuss generating extra electricity themselves, just reselling electricity that they aren't using.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074584)

It may not be in the article, but Google have posted articles in the past indicating that they're experimenting with all sorts of alternative energy sources, including solar, wind and even wave/tide power generators.

I'm not saying that it's likely they're going to become a net producer any time soon, but it's not impossible.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074460)

Excess energy? That’s a problem I’d like to have! ^^

Oh Tesla coils! How I wish I had a couple of you just fizzing away all day long! That would definitely keep out the thieves! :D

Re:More crazy US laws. (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074824)

It is currently illegal to resell electricity that you generate using 'waste'.

OP is technically correct but its a massive simplification, and not a serious problem for an organized well run company.

It has to do with depreciation and losses. If IBM writes off an ancient server and sends it to the scrapyard, they don't have to pay any property tax on it anymore and can deduct the value of the server off their profits and balance sheets. Its a simplification, but you don't have to pay tax on a loss of money from giving up and scrapping that server.

This applies to pretty much any industry. Let say you're a sawmill. And your accountant deducts the value of some screwed up scrap wood, so you don't have to pay tax on that wood anymore, or at least it offsets the gains/profits that you do have to pay taxes upon. Then, dude installs a cogeneration plant, burns the "worthless" scrap wood, and gets money for it. Unless they tell the accountant/IRS that wood is now a profit center instead of a loss center, big tax problems can develop. Its also complicates the situation if some "valuable" wood is freely given away in the trash can, and some is burned for profit, because its a money laundering/theft/fraud opportunity.

This is one line of thinking that leads to scrapped computer equipment being pushed thru a chipper shredder to make sure no one can ever use it again.

Re:More crazy US laws. (3, Insightful)

aronschatz (570456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075350)

So, what you're saying is that taxes are the problem...

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32080174)

They always have been. Governments around the world use taxation as a form of social engineering to secure political power and control. Much like a shepherd herding its flock. Unfortunately, society is a very big, complicated moving target. Trying to control it only brings more complication and inefficiencies in the process.

Sorry, I should have given you a choice. Perhaps you wanted the blue pill instead?

Re:More crazy US laws. (4, Informative)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076316)

I'm an accountant, have read your post a few times, and still can't figure out what you're trying to say. (caveat: this post assumes U.S. tax law)

"If IBM writes off an ancient server and sends it to the scrapyard, they don't have to pay any property tax on it anymore and can deduct the value of the server off their profits and balance sheets."

(1) IBM probably doesn't pay much, if any, property taxes on server equipment. (state and local taxes on the current market value of installed equipment)

(2) IBM has already deducted the cost of the server equipment from their U.S. income tax return as a depreciation expense - for such small costs, it is immediate-to-very-quickly. Scraping equipment results in a tax benefit only when you have not already 'written off' the cost of the equipment on a tax return, which tax accountants do as quickly as allowable.

(3) Similarly, IBM shows server equipment on their balance sheet as 'equipment, net of depreciation', that is, the un-depreciated (or not-yet-'written-off' portion of acquisition cost). Scrapping already-expensed or fully-depreciated equipment generally doesn't change the balance sheet that much. (there are tax vs. book differences in depreciation and expensing equipment, but minor in the great scheme of things)

----------

As to the Sawmill example:

The entire plant is Revenues minus Costs = Profit. You bought the input wood, and produce wood products for sale. You deduct, as Cost of Goods Sold, all of the input wood as raw materials. If you previously threw away waste sawdust, that is your inefficiency, but doesn't change the fact that you would still deduct the full cost of the wood raw materials.

If you start selling the waste sawdust, then you still deduct the same amount for the cost of raw materials - you bought the same amount of wood. Only now, you are selling another product for additional revenue, which used to be thrown in the trash. That the sawdust used to be thrown in the trash isn't what caused those taxes to be lower - it's that you didn't have as much revenue (and profit) which caused the lower taxes. Now that you are selling the sawdust: More Revenue, same Costs = more Profit due to a better sales model. More income taxes are owed as a result of the increase profit, not because you sold product out of a loss center (profit and loss center are not tax terms; they are used in management/operational accounting), or used to record some deduction for throwing the sawdust away (you didn't record any such deduction, you simply didn't record any revenue from the (non-existent) sale of the sawdust).

There would be regulatory and special tax depreciation considerations if you are burning sawdust to generate electrical power for sale, and there might be a difference in how you would characterize and value a charitable contribution of sawdust in the two scenarios (due to differing evidence of value of the contribution), but those are both sidepoints to the main topic of characterizing the sawmill's economic transactions for tax purposes.

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

furbyhater (969847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076526)

Allowing Google to enter the wholesale energy market is surely a huge boon to Google. But shouldn't they already be trying to make their data centers the most efficient possible, anyway? If they could reprocess some of the heat from the data centers in to electric current, shouldn't they be able to use it themselves in the cooling of the datacenter? What do you mean by "energy negative"? That the data-centers will start generating energy instead of consuming it?

Re:More crazy US laws. (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32079720)

You've got a whole thread now asking you what the hell you're talking about. Since I don't see one on first, +3 scanning, I'll give you one:

[[citation needed]]

Especially given the farmers in Vermont being paid to turn cow shit into electricity [cvps.com] . If you don't consider a steaming pile of cow shit "waste", I'm not sure what qualifies...

Explaination (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074100)

Okay, I thought this was pretty obvious: Google realizes it's not going to remain a financial powerhouse by milking the same products over and over. Like every other tech firm, if you don't diversify you die. Google is capitalizing on the massive cash reserves it has right now by spreading itself out as much as possible. Anything even tangentially relevant to its existing business enterprises is going to be explored. And it's not like people are going to stop needing electricity anytime soon.

Re:Explaination (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074232)

Plus, Google has always been about doing what other companies have done before, only bigger and better. Enron used shady energy trading practices to cause rolling blackouts in California. Google will improve on this process to cause rolling blackouts nationwide.

Re:Explaination (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074382)

Actually, Google plans to cause rolling blackouts globally, in an energy scheme they are calling "Night and Day".

Re:Explaination (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076962)

Eric Schmidt: If you're not following the the normal day/night patterns of the sun, maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

Re:Explaination (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074468)

No, Enron didn't cause it, the California regulators, environmental regulation changes, energy prices and Enron caused it.

If California hadn't deregulated, Enron wouldn't have had a position to tweak the markets, then by capping prices the energy companies didn't expand to meet demand, which by the time the needed to expand there were environmental regulations in place that made expansion impossible and before you knew it, the Terminator was govenator and Enron was selling it's big E on ebay.

Re:Explaination (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074832)

No, Enron didn't cause it, the California regulators, environmental regulation changes, energy prices and Enron caused it.

Sure, Wyatt.

And it was greedy environmentalists that have caused the hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil that's now gushing from a hole in the bottom of the sea.

(Actually, it's from a bump on a lump in a hole in the bottom of the sea. Or... a flea on a tick on rat on a cat on a frog on a dog on a bump...or something...in a hole in the bottom of the sea).

In Opposite-Land, greedy environmentalists cause ecological disasters, regulators cause companies to do horrible things and George W Bush was the greatest president since Jesus.

And Wyatt Earp is really insightful.

Re:Explaination (3, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32077856)

I don't have a problem with environmentalists, or conservationism for that matter. What really irks me is the sheer militant anti-corporatism, backed by spoiled brats using their cell phones (with radio technology implemented by big corporations), while driving their hybrids (built by companies that also product large gas guzzling commercial and luxury vehicles). Eating their "organic" produce that realizes low yields (can't feed the world), and utilizes "natural" pesticides that are more harmful to the environment, grown by the same big corporate commercial growers and harvested from countries that can't even maintain their own laws regarding food standards. But hey, to each their own.

Re:Explaination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32080746)

Of all of those examples, only the one is the result of malfeasance. I'm sure you can quibble and blather all you want about how others created the circumstances Enron exploited but...yeah, they exploited it, and really, given the consequences, they should have been taken out in the street and shot. The rest you can put in prison for stupidity if you want.

Re:Explaination (4, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074282)

Except that's not at all what the article says. They aren't trying to expand into the energy trading market. All they're trying to do is increase the available supply of renewable electricity for their own data centers.

I guess it wasn't quite that obvious.

Elementary (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074182)

Also, this way the extent and sizes of their data centers can be hidden behind a energy trading corp controlled by them.

Re:Elementary (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074688)

They still have to file with SEC every year, so I don't think they can really hide any such thing.

Re:Elementary (1)

funkboy (71672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075174)

They still have to file with SEC every year, so I don't think they can really hide any such thing.

So did Enron.

Re:Elementary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074744)

Why do they need another corporation to "hide" the extent and size of their data centers? Couldn't they just use Google, Inc.? OK, I'll grant that Google could use this energy trading company to conceal how much power each DC is using, but this information isn't publicly available now. Utilities, with the exception of GWB-era phone companies, don't typically release records of their customers without a court order.

Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (0, Offtopic)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074212)

I can see that smug cloud building. (bad joke I know)

But on a more serious note: a link to their site about their data-centers going green: http://www.google.com/corporate/green/datacenters/ [google.com] Only at Google would they compare "15,000 Google Searches" to a cheeseburger...

Unrelated: "A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile" they rate at 10,000 "Google Searches", they obviously have NOT seen how I drive. But don't judge, I am easily amused...the circumference of the earth (meridian, by car) is ~4.9*10^6 Google Searches

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074326)

Oops forgot this link: this one specifically talks about clean energy as related to article above in Google approved format. http://www.google.org/rec.html [google.org]

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074646)

Unrelated: "A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile" they rate at 10,000 "Google Searches", they obviously have NOT seen how I drive.

You do know what "average" means? Or do you use so little gas it would actually influence the nationwide average? For that I think you'll need to end the trip with more gas than you started with!

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074868)

No I was just referring to the fact I speed and do not really believe in traffic laws. Oh and of course it is an average (with one sig-fig), mine is just a poorly construed joke.

For that I think you'll need to end the trip with more gas than you started with!

Don't we all wish. :)

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075108)

If you both speed and run red lights/stop signs, it probably averages out to the same as a person driving slower but stopping all the time. So it's all good. =p

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075204)

I keep misreading your name as "mastertwit"... wait.. maybe I'm not misreading it.

Re:Good for them, now fix my privacy on Buzz. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078536)

No I was just referring to the fact I speed and do not really believe in traffic laws.

Yeah, well, numbers don't agree with you [wikipedia.org] . Maybe you can speed safely, I have no idea, but it's pretty clear that most people can't and shouldn't be allowed to try, because they're endangering other people.

Because they know more than anyone else? (3, Interesting)

llamalad (12917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074214)

I wonder if they can get any insight into other energy trading companies' plans and strategy based on the search activities of their employees and executive teams...

Re:Because they know more than anyone else? (1)

hlee (518174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074614)

Getting a bit off topic here, but you raise an interesting issue.

I bet that the frequency of certain searches can predict whether a company stock will increase or decrease, e.g. lots of searches for " problems" is a precursor to that company stock crashing.

I wonder what policies are in place regarding usage of such aggregate information within Google (or other search companies).

Re:Because they know more than anyone else? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074720)

For that matter, they could start betting on where the next government scandal is going to come from based on work-time searches for pr0n. There are so many possibilities when you start abusing your customer privacy agreements!

Re:Because they know more than anyone else? (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32078012)

I bet that the frequency of certain searches can predict whether a company stock will increase or decrease, e.g. lots of searches for " problems" is a precursor to that company stock crashing.

If insider trading was legal, we could simply watch what insiders were trading on the public markets to find out what is going on in a company. Instead, it gets hidden until the big quarterly SEC filing, unless simply camouflaged by accounting gimmicks until too late.

Do no evil, Google! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074216)

This is a shocking revelation! You're breaking my heart, Google! I didn't know you had such a capacity for evil! Stop brokering for power! Resist the temptation!

data centers consume 2%-5% US electricity (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074228)

Depending on whose stats you read. Plus Google is the largest data server in the world. Not necessary the largest electricity consumer if you read about their green technology. Since energy costs as much 50% TCO of a data server, it makes sense to hedge it.

Re:data centers consume 2%-5% US electricity (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074600)

ok, they use 2-5% of the electricity, but with that small perentage, they still supply 95% of spam. That seems pretty efficient.

Re:data centers consume 2%-5% US electricity (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074748)

Definitely more efficient than, say, an aluminum foundry that uses as much electricity as a small town but only produces as much spam as the boss's botnet-drone laptop can manage.

tr0ellkore (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074262)

on an 3ndeavour Become like they and I probably wiil recall that it

Google - Search Engine / Browser / OS and now! (1)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074302)

Your local energy supplier. I think this is a great idea to energize our economy and spur new innovations in green-thinking-enterprises. It's already smart that Google builds it's data-centers near flowing water for hydro-electric power. I think it's an even better idea for them to be able to sell energy, not to pun the green idea, but it's definitely an organic move for them. I'd be interested in seeing how far this move takes developers in a greener path. The downside is that their aware of the "Enron" debacle and that they don't want to become the next Enron - another pun would be; 'This idea could Goowrong.'

You forgot Google the Advertising Company (1)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075346)

Their prime market is online advertising. Jus' sayin'.

Maybe their master plan is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074398)

...World Domination???

What is Greenpeace smoking? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32074674)

From Google's website: "By 2010, we seek to reduce global CO2 emissions from the operation of computers by 54 million tons per year"
From TFA: "Greenpeace [...] faulted the company for not setting emission reduction targets"

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (4, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074942)

I hate to say it, but Greenpeace does not care for any sort of facts.

They are the birthers of the environmentalists.

As an example, read a nice little article by them regarding the type of processing that is done for toilet paper. Any company that did not respond to their request was assumed to use the most environmentally damaging processing. Greenpeace then used this information to say that XX% of TP is made using these really harmful processes.

In short, Greenpeace is full of shit and they are afraid to wipe.

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076258)

Actually it's a little more complex than that. Greenpeace rated apple way, way low on the "environment-friendly" scale because they use PVC plastics in some of their products. Very few, actually. Apple had no comment on this; but they were making much less power-hungry products, with much less lead than anyone else, with more efficient packaging, on more efficient processes. For this small misstep and a complete lack of care to deal with Greenpeace's bullshit, Greenpeace ranked them way down.

In other words, Greenpeace rates you as "environmentally friendly" if you dance for them at request. They are not a standards body, they don't publish a spec you barely fall inside to score well; they say "DANCE MONKEY!" and you dance or they cry to the world that you won't play nice with them.

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076282)

I'm all for supporting a cause, but there are few organizations more ridiculous than Greenpeace. (I'll mention PETA to get it out of the way, but lets not derail).

My mother works for a certain Oil and Gas Company here in Canada. A rather Large one. She was actually one of the people who helped start the oilsands projects, which I agree is terrible for the environment but has made Canada a little more self sufficient, so I'm torn on whether its a good or a bad thing. Anyways, the position she happens to hold is the Environmental/Health and Safety Director. So she has quite a few interesting stories regarding GreenPeace. On some matters, she can't even tell me what happened, confidential information. (Since this is the internet I'm trying not to disclose any information I shouldn't).

But I do remember Greenpeace, rather than just protesting or picketting, they went and snuck their way into one of the refineries up there. They wanted to set up a banner or something atop one of the structures. The pathway they chose was along this big conveyor belt, which they had shut down, and started to climb. So, now not only had they commited a break and enter on private company property, but they were also disrupting the clockwork system those kinds of factories set up. Now, just about any incompetant foreman could have turned on the conveyor belt again, and the Greenpeace activists would have been pushed into a big fiery pit, but of course they don't hire morons for foremen, and he caught on right away what was going on. I don't know exactly how it all ended, but some arrests were made.

Anyways, the more I look into Greenpeace and what they do, the more I hate them. However noble their cause might be, the idiocy in their actions strikes me as unbelievable. This is NOT how you bring about change.

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (4, Interesting)

pmc (40532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076298)

My favourite Greenpeace press release contained the following sentence:

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]"

Yes - the bit in caps is theirs.

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32077504)

Holy shit.

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32079460)

Ooh, Greenpeace Mad-Libs! I love it!

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly ONE NUCLEAR DISASTER!"

Hmm, not Armaggeddonist-y enough. Ah, here we go.

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly FIFTY RECORDED TYPE 1-A SUPERNOVAE, WHICH IS A FUSION REACTOR EXPLODING WITH THE POWER OF A STAR EXPLODING!"

Still think nuclear power is safe? Huh?!

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076792)

[citation needed] (not that I like them, just for correctness)

Re:What is Greenpeace smoking? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076924)

It's OK that it's recycled toilet paper, but WHY BROWN??!!!

ENRON (2, Interesting)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32074684)

You know who else was an energy trading company? /I keed.

Large fuel source (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075138)

Can Google generate power by burning spam? Maybe that is their nefarious plan. They steal all the spam from Google Mail, and burn it to generte electricity. Given the amount of spam I get to my regular email account, they must collect a metric buttload every day. Instead of just throwing it into a landfill, they can burn it instead.

Ok, I need to check out the pork futures wharehouse now, to see if they will have any specials.

please watch this ad (2, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32075372)

You have just plugged in your laundry machine. Please watch this context-sensitive advertisement about washing detergents before mains power is supplied.

Re:please watch this ad (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32076308)

If the electricity is supplied in exchange for that commercial instead of cash, you can be that a lot of people would jump at the offer.

Face it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32075374)

Google is the precursor to a global government. Nations should just realize this now and surrender as soon as possible. No use standing in the way of Progress.

Re:Face it (1)

bpd1069 (57573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32077302)

Really? I see it as capitalism with a conscious.

Way to go google (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32079196)

FTW and screw you too, all I can say, is google is bypassing the middle man, and taking a few people along for the ride too...this is awesome, imagine if there were more companies like google that would do this sort of thing, and push for monopolies to end....from their dark fiber network for free internet, and now energy, as well as we all know and love their search engine...I think it is awesome
that this sort of thing is going to now push the elec. co. to bring down their prices.

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