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Google investing $94 million in Sacramento-area solar plants

December 20, 2011 |  7:43 pm

Recurrent Energy solar panel farms

Google announced that it's investing $94 million in solar panel farms in the Sacramento area.

The money will go toward four photovoltaic, or PV, panel farms built by San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy, owned by tech-giant Sharp, and will help fuel the project alongside funding from investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., said Axel Martinez, Google's assistant treasurer, in a company blog post Tuesday.

The investment pushes Google's portfolio of clean energy investments to more than $915 million, $880 million of which has been invested since January, Martinez said. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Recurrent and Google did not disclose how much Kohlberg Kravis Roberts was investing in the project.

"We're already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops," he said. "But this investment represents our first investment in the U.S. in larger scale solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid -- instead of on individual rooftops."

Martinez said the effort will produce about 88 megawatts of power, or about the amount of energy needed to power "the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes."

The investment is the first in which Google and KKR are partnering, but it is likely not the last, he said.

"We believe investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future," Martinez said.

The power that will be produced by the four solar farms "is already contracted for 20 years with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District," he said.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Recurrent Energy solar panel farm. Credit: Google

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