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Google Blowing $55M into SoCal Desert Wind Farm Project

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Wind power in action near Palm Springs (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
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As part of its ongoing mission to give their bucks to green projects, internet search giant Google has announced they will finance a portion of the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in the Mojave Desert. Google posted details about their investment on their blog, explaining that the will be putting their money towards what's known as the 102 MW Alta IV project; portions of the AWEC are already up and running.

Overall, the AWEC " will generate 1,550 megawatts (MW) of energy when complete, making it one of the largest sites in the country for wind energy generation—enough to power 450,000 homes."

Google explains how their financing, along with that of Citibank, works:

The Alta projects also employ an innovative financial structure called a leveraged lease, which has been used previously in the solar industry but has only recently become an option for wind projects. Under the leveraged lease, Google and Citi are purchasing the Alta IV project and will lease it back to Terra-Gen, who will manage and operate the wind projects under long-term agreements. We hope this structure encourages more investment by enabling other types of investors who might not typically consider wind projects.
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The energy generated by the AWEC is and will continue to go to Southern California Edison, though Google will not be purchasing energy sourced from the AWEC. Google notes that this wind power project will have a profound effect on our state's utility production and green energy goals: "AWEC will help California meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent clean power by 2020. The whole site will boost California’s wind generation by 30 percent."

To date, Google has invested over $400 million in the clean energy sector. The company recently grew their presence in Los Angeles, when they announced in January a plan to move into the iconic Venice "binoculars" building and amp up their employee base in the region.