Google Makes $280 Million Solar Investment With SolarCity

In an effort to help private homeowners get solar panels installed on their rooftops, Internet giant Google has made its largest ever contribution in solar energy with its latest $280 million investment.

The $280 million deal with installer SolarCity – which is the largest of its kind to date – will allow SolarCity use of the funds to pay for a solar system that it can offer to residents for no up front costs. In exchange, customers agree to pay a set price for the power produced by the panels.

Google’s founder and chief executive Larry Page has said that he wants their operations to eventually produce no net greenhouse gas emissions, and so far Google has invested in wind farms in North Dakota, California, and Oregon, and in solar projects in California and Germany. Their latest deal with SolarCity brings the total value of their investments in clean energy to $680 million.

Google will earn a return on its investment by charging SolarCity interest to use its money and by reaping the benefits of federal and local renewable energy tax credits.

“It allows us to put our capital to work in a way that is very important to the founders and to Google, and we found a good business model to support,’’ said Joel Conkling of Google’s Green Business Operations.

However, Google’s investors have questioned the company’s investments in areas like solar power that have little to do with the company’s main Internet businesses, particularly if they may be potentially risky or generate lower returns. But Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pinchette has reassured investors, saying that the tax benefits of these projects can generate high returns.

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