Sure, it's only $75 million, probably less than Google spends on a month of lunches for its employees. But Google's investment of $75 million into the Rippey Wind Farm in central Iowa, where it operates an expanding data center, brings its total investment into renewable energy projects to nearly $1 billion.
Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz told the Des Moines Register that it's part of Google's strategy to “green the grid in regions where we operate.” And Google does operate in Iowa. It opened a $600 million data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 2009 and is currently adding a second $300 million facility nearby to that one.
The wind farm, which has 20 wind turbines that can produce 50 megawatts, just started generating electricity this fall. RPM Access, the wind farm's owner (aside from Google,) has a long-term contract to supply power to an Iowa electricity wholesaler, the Central Iowa Power Cooperative.
Hurowitz says Google's data centers use just about half the energy of an average data center. The company is on a mission to eliminate the use of fossil fuels at its centers. About a third of the energy the company uses comes from renewable sources.
There's no word on why Google made the investment--whether, for example, it will be involved in active management of the wind farm, or if it gives Google data centers preferential access to the energy it produces. But the Register said that that the announcement has reinvigorated local political support in Congress for extending current tax credits to the wind power industry.