Google facility in Douglas moving to solar energy

Google announced Tuesday that its Douglas County data center in Lithia Springs will soon be operating on renewable energy, the result of a partnership with Georgia Power that has been more than two years in the making. The company said the program was the first of its kind in Georgia.

Through this program, Google said it will procure 78.8 megawatts of solar energy for its data center in Douglas County as part of an effort to use renewable energy in every market it operates.

Google said in a press release that in the global search to find renewable energy for its data centers, the company has "long wanted to work with the state of Georgia."

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the program as part of the 2016 Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), according to Bill Edge, spokesperson with the PSC.

The program, developed in coordination with the Georgia PSC and interested customers, is designed to further the growth of renewable energy in Georgia while also helping commercial and industrial customers meet distinct renewable energy goals.

Georgia Power said it will purchase solar power from outside groups through Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs) and sell that solar power to customers including Google, Johnson & Johnson, Target and Walmart, which signed up for 10 years.

Google said the program can now move forward on construction of new two solar energy projects totaling 177 megawatts of power to supply the Commercial & Industrial Renewable Energy Development Initiative by Georgia Power.

"Solar is abundant and cost-competitive in the region, but until now the market rules did not allow companies like ours to purchase renewable energy," Google said in the announcement.

When the new projects become operational in 2019 and 2020, Google said participating customers like themselves will be able to substitute a portion of its electricity bill with a fixed price matched to the production of renewable energy generated.

"This shows that providing a cost-competitive, fixed-price clean power option is not only good for the environment, it also makes business sense," Google said in a press release written by Gary Demasi, director of global infrastructure.

Demasi said, “What we’ve accomplished in partnership with Georgia Power and other major corporate energy buyers in the region is a testament to the important role that businesses can play in unlocking access to renewable energy. We collaborated for over two years to help build this program, which passes the costs directly to corporate buyers, while adding more low-cost, renewable electricity to the state’s energy mix.”

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