IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NRG - NRG celebrates the future of solar energy at the grand opening of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, on Thursday, February, 13, 2014 in Nipton, CA. Ivanpah has a total of 347,000 mirrors that power 140,000 homes in California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Invision for NRG/AP Images)
Google has spent $1.4 billion investing in alternative energy and, other than banks and utilities, is one of the industry's biggest backer.
Google is cashing in not by creating energy panels, but by using tax incentives that can give the company as much as 10 percent gains a year, according to Bloomberg News.
“We look at projects that will give us attractive returns,” said Rick Needham, Google's director of energy and sustainability.
Google, with around $60 billion of cash stockpiled, needed ways to spend and found that creating alternative energy for its data centers was "natural," according to chief Larry Page
Partnering with Recurrent Energy, a Sharp Corp. solar developer, and uses tax-equity financing. This government incentive allows the company to lessen taxes by investing in renewable energy like solar, according to Bloomberg News. The solar project gives back a 10 to 14 percent annually with half the profit tied to incentives. Only JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S. Bancorp and MetLife Inc. surpass Google's investments.
Google has brought power to hundreds of thousands of homes by wind and solar power and is still looking for projects to fund. Recently it funded a solar power plant in Galt, Calif. which feeds power to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Google shares in money paid for the energy.
There are many ways to get tax breaks, but getting it by creating energy is now no longer considered a bastion for the progressive and naive. By creating more efficient plants, Google's tax incentive investments are actually making money. It also makes Google seem progressive even if they're now not much different than regional utility companies.