Search engine giant Google Inc. has signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority to buy electricity from a wind farm under construction in Canadian County.
Google will buy up to 48 megawatts of wind power from GRDA's interest in the Canadian Hills wind farm near El Reno. The 300-megawatt wind farm is expected to be complete by the end of the year and will be Oklahoma's largest wind farm with 135 turbines.
Google will use the electricity to operate its data center in Pryor in northeastern Oklahoma. The data center began operations in 2011.
“In conjunction with the electricity GRDA already supplies Google to operate its data center, Google will pay GRDA a premium to purchase renewable energy generated by Canadian Hills,” Gary Demasi, director of Google's global infrastructure team, said in a company blog post. “This brings the total amount of renewable energy for which Google has contracted to over 260 megawatts.”
Google last year signed a deal with NextEra Energy Resources to buy electricity directly from NextEra's Minco II Wind Energy Center in Grady and Caddo counties.
GRDA approached Google about the possibility of adding wind power in early 2012, officials said.
“Google's long and demonstrated commitment to renewable energy, combined with their significant and growing presence within our service area, has been an important factor in GRDA's pursuit of renewables, as exemplified by this agreement,” Dan Sullivan, CEO of GRDA, said in a statement. “In addition to increasing Google's access to renewable energy, we are also offsetting part of GRDA's wind acquisition cost through the premium Google has agreed to pay. We are pleased to pass the savings along to Oklahomans, and we're proud to pioneer this innovative structure with one of our largest customers.”
The Canadian Hills wind farm is being developed by Apex Wind Energy Holdings LLC and Atlantic Power Corp. Aside from the GRDA, it will sell power to the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority and Southwestern Electric Power Co., a Louisiana-based unit of American Electric Power.