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Google makes $280 million deal with SolarCity

by Jorge Hernandez on June 14, 2011

Google has announced a $280 million deal with SolarCity, a California solar panel installation company, to provide solar power capacity to individual homeowners.

This represents the biggest deal that Google has ever made in clean energy.

"Energy drives our businesses, and we want our energy to be clean," Rick Needham, Google's director of green business operations, told CNN. "Over time renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuel. We're doing what we can to make that happen faster."

According to SolarCity executives, this is a trend-setting investment on the part of the internet search engine giant.

"Google's leading the way and other companies could follow suit," Lyndon Rive, chief executive of SolarCity, told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not just about a dramatic environmental impact, it's also a good return."

The new deal would provide solar panels to potentially 9,000 homes in 10 different states across the county, reports CNN. Google had previously invested over $160 million into a green energy project in the Mojave Desert, according to the L.A. Times.

"These investments make good business sense," Needham told the news outlet. "It's a way of diversifying our portfolio and supporting clean energy industries, helping them deploy more broadly and moving down the cost curve."

SolarCity is based in San Mateo, California, and has about 15,000 solar power projects currently underway. The company allows interested households to purchase solar power systems or rent solar power on a monthly basis. The latter is preferred by the majority of consumers at the moment. Google's investment will help with set-up and maintenance costs, while part of the monthly rental fees received by SolarCity will go to Google.

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