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Google Makes $200M Equity Investment In Texas Wind Farm, Says Its Investments Now Generate 2 Gigawatts

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Google just announced yet another major investment in renewable energy. The company says that it has made a $200 million equity investment in an existing wind farm in Oldham County Texas. The Spinning Spur Wind Farm currently produces about 161 MW and uses 70 Siemens turbines to generate enough power for about 60,000 U.S. homes. EDF Renewable Energy, the current owner of the project, will manage the project and will remain the owner alongside Google.

This is one of Google’s largest investments in renewable energy yet, though it’s trumped by the $280 million the company put into the SolarCity fund in 2011.

EDF itself purchased the wind farm last January from Austin-based Cielo Wind Power for $322 million and finished the project by the end of 2012 in order to qualify for a number of federal incentives that were set to expire on December 31.

As for the company’s reason for today’s investment, Kojo Ako-Asare, Senior Manager, Corporate Finance at Google writes that the company looks “for projects like Spinning Spur because, in addition to creating more renewable energy and strengthening the local economy, they also make for smart investments: they offer attractive returns relative to the risks and allow us to invest in a broad range of assets.”

“EDF Renewable Energy is pleased to engage with an innovative company like Google on this equity financing,” said Jim Peters, Vice President of Project Finance in a statement today. “The partnership between our companies reflects a departure from sourcing investment capital from traditional financial institutions for our renewable energy projects. This transaction provides an opportunity for a leading renewable energy developer to join forces with a leading technology company to create value for both our companies and our respective customers.”

In total, the eleven renewable energy projects Google has invested in are now capable of generating over 2 gigawatts of power, the company says, enough to power about half a million U.S. homes. Google also stressed that four of its projects hit a number of important milestones in the last year. Here is the company’s summary of those:

  • The Atlantic Wind Connection received permission to begin permitting, an important step in advancing the construction of the United States’ first offshore backbone electric transmission system (more in this new video).
  • Shepherds Flat, one of the world’s largest wind farms with a capacity of 845 MW, became fully operational in October.
  • The Ivanpah project, which is more than 75 percent complete and employs 2,000+ people, recently installed its 100,000th heliostat, a kind of mirror (more in this new video).
  • Just yesterday (PDF), the fourth and final phase of Recurrent Energy’s 88MW solar installation in Sacramento County, Calif., reached commercial operation.