In a post yesterday in the Google Green blog, Google announced that it had signed on as the first customer for a Duke Energy program that will allow it to assure that its data center is being powered by a PPA guaranteeing sourced renewable power. In this case, the 61 MW of contracted power will be coming from a solar project in Rutherford County, NC.
Google currently has a multiple data center campus in Lenoir, NC, with the initial build eight years ago and a major expansion of the site in 2013. 2013 was also when Duke Energy started its Green Source Rider program, which is an experimental program offering companies with extensive energy needs, such as data centers, the ability to offset their energy consumption with renewable energy.
This program gets around the need for meeting often complex regulatory requirements for purchasing power on the scale needed by these energy intensive industries and allows companies to make power purchases directly from Duke Energy, rather than purchasing or funding large scale renewable projects directly, in order to offset their power requirements which need to be supplied by more consistent and reliable power sources than wind or solar.
Despite the announcement of the program in November 2013, it has taken over two years of work to get Google, the first customer officially announced for this program. The program does not require that energy be supplied from a specific renewable energy source, and the offset simply applies to renewable energy obtained by Duke from any source.