Google gives $2.65 million to energy grant organization

The Internet giant seeks to influence revisions to regulations and policies written for "last century's grid."

Just days after its last wind energy investment , Google has donated $2.65 million to an organization that it believes will encourage "policy reforms that will lead to more intelligent energy use."

The grant to the Energy Foundation will support its own "grantmaker" efforts in three areas:

  • Developing "smarter electricity rates" that encourage both energy efficiency and on-site energy generation
  • The creation of better demand generation programs, which compensate consumers and businesses for reducing energy consumption at certain time
  • "Open data" policies that let customers see their energy data in more detail, which will help with energy management

Michael Terrell, senior policy counsel, energy and sustainability for Google, writes in the company's official blog:

"What if instead of a monthly bill we had access to more real-time and actionable information about our electricity consumption? What if our appliances, air conditioners, and lights adjusted automatically to use energy more efficiently and save money? If we did this in every home it would help improve the reliability of the grid and save billions of dollars."

Google's investment targets "rules governing electricity distribution that were written for last century’s grid." The Energy Foundation describes its mission as one that promotes as "sustainable energy future by advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy." Other backers of the non-profit include the high-profile charitable organizations started by both founders of Hewlett-Packard as well as the Schmidt Family Foundation created in 2006 by Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

Although Google retired its own PowerMeter energy management project about 18 months ago because of weak consumption adoption, it has emerged as one of the most progressive companies when it comes to renewable energy. Since 2010, it has backed projects representing about 2 gigawatts in clean energy policy.

Aside from the Energy Foundation, Google is also aligned with the Alliance to Save Energy (Terrell is council to the group), which champions the cause of energy efficiency.