An offshore wind turbine stands in the Thames Estuary. Google says it will invest in transmission lines from East Coast states to offshore wind farms, which have not yet been built.
A group of investors, with Google at the helm, has set aside $1.8 billion to build a network of underwater transmission lines to connect future offshore wind turbine farms off the Eastern Seaboard to the electrical grid on the mainland.
Offshore farms have been proposed off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, Del., and Ocean City, Md., but opponents say the tripping point for the projects is finding an efficient way to channel the energy harnessed offshore to more than a half-million homes in the coastal states.
Google believes these transmission lines could be the answer.
Environmental groups have spent months trying to sell politicians and the public on the merits of offshore wind farms as being the future of energy for the Mid-Atlantic.
Yet, with news of the effort by Google and others, advocacy groups like the Chesapeake Climate Action Network were elated.
"When private investors are putting billions of dollars at risk to develop an energy infrastructure that is clean and renewable...that's a good day for Maryland, it's a good day for the United States," says the network's executive director, Mike Tidwell.
Tidwell believes Google's smart grid, coupled with proposed wind farms like the ones in Maryland and Delaware, are signs that the country's green future is starting to happen right now.
The first phase of the project will include 150 miles of underwater lines from New Jersey to Delaware and is projected for completion by 2016. The entire project could cost more than $5 billion over the next ten years.
Google's share in the project is reportedly more than 37 percent, splitting the costs with investment firm Good Energies, Japanese industrial conglomerate Marubeni and Maryland transmission company Trans-Elect.