A $75 million investment announced by Google today in an Iowa wind farm is a precursor to what could be an even larger investment in the state to be announced Friday.
Google took the big stake in the newly completed 50 megawatt Rippey Wind Farm developed by RPM Access, a West Des Moines wind developer. The investment in the Greene County wind farm is part of the technology firm’s commitment to be carbon neutral, explained spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz.
Power from the wind farm will not go to Google, which already has a long-term supply contract to buy wind energy from NextEra Energy in Iowa. Central Iowa Power Cooperative in Cedar Rapids, which supplies wholesale power to rural electric cooperatives in the state, has a long-term agreement to buy the wind farm’s power output.
The search engine giant has operated a huge data center in Council Bluffs since 2009, and strives to make investments in green energy near its data centers, Hurowitz said.
Google is expected to join state leaders Friday for another big announcement pertaining to investment in Iowa and it Council Bluffs data center.
An expansion of the Council Bluffs data center announced last April is still under way, but that may not rule out the possibility of another expansion given Google’s fast-growing data needs.
RPM Access plans to use the Google investment to free up capital it can invest in more Iowa wind projects, company officials said.
The wind developer is making plans to develop more wind farms regardless of whether a key federal tax credit due to expire at the end of the year is extended, RPM Access Principal Steve Dryden said. Two of the projects could be built in 2013. Two more projects could be constructed in 2014.
RPM Access’ Rippey Wind Farm is one of the first wind farms in Iowa to use 100-meter-tall towers high towers to provide better wind exposure for the 2.5-megawatt turbines. The wind farm will continue to be managed by RPM Access.
Google has invested or committed to invest over $980 million in the green energy sector, Hurowitz said.