Google invests $38.8 million in two wind farms

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Internet search giant Google Inc has invested $38.8 million in two wind farms in North Dakota that generate enough energy to power more than 55,000 homes.

The investment in the wind farms, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, is Google’s first direct investment in a utility-scale renewable energy project.

Google has so far invested in early-stage green start-ups such as solar thermal companies BrightSource Energy and eSolar.

“Through this $38.8 million investment, we’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in a way that makes good business sense, too,” Rick Needham, Google’s green business operations manager, wrote in a blogpost on Monday.

Google has pushed ahead in addressing climate change issues as a philanthropic effort through its arm.

The often-quirky company said in late 2007 that it would invest in companies and do research of its own to produce affordable renewable energy -- at a price less than burning coal -- within a few years.

Separately, NextEra Energy, a subsidiary of Florida utility FPL Group Inc, said on Monday that it has sold about $190 million of Class B membership interests in Peace Garden Wind, windfarms that produce 169.5 megawatts of power in North Dakota.

NextEra Energy is the largest owner of wind farms in the United States with more than 7,500 megawatts of installed wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky