Back in January, Google put in a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the regulatory body that oversees the power grid. Applying under a subsidiary called Google Energy, the search giant was seeking permission to buy and sell electricity on the wholesale market.
However, Google Energy is not about entering the electricity market. Rather, Google is just eager to reduce its carbon footprint. At the time, a Google spokesperson told CNet that Google wants to buy the highest quality and most affordable renewable energy wherever it can.
"Right now, we can't buy affordable, utility-scale, renewable energy in our markets," said Google rep Niki Fenwick. "We want to buy the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can and use the green credits."
The FERC today granted Google Energy market-based rate authorization. This means Google has been approved for the sale of energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates. However, the Commission clarified that neither Google Energy nor its affiliates "own or control any generation or transmission" facilities.
CNet's Candace Lombardi writes that it is not unusual for large corporations to be granted the authority to trade in the wholesale electricity market for the purpose of managing their own energy costs. However, it seems Google hasn't quite ruled out entering the energy business.
"We don't have any concrete plans. We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio," Fenwick told CNET News in January.