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Google's Power Play


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Google and General Electric (GE) have teamed up on an ambitious project to transform the United States' energy production infrastructure from a model characterized by inefficiency and overconsumption to a decentralized, distributed, and disembodied platform. The ultimate aim is the deployment of energy-smart homes where appliances know when to power up and power down, and where heating and cooling systems automatically adjust themselves to changes in energy prices.

Google has visualized a massive computer network that monitors and manages the nation's electricity grid and establishes prices for power according to real-time supply and demand. Google has been focused on energy efficiency for years, and the company discovered that it could lower its servers' overall energy consumption by up to 50 percent below what most other companies use to run their systems by modifying the servers' voltages and power supplies. Google engineer Erik Teetzel says the problem of making money from the distributed electrical grid will be sorted out once the major technical issues are resolved.

Google and GE are planning the rollout of an advocacy campaign to lobby for more federal subsidies and incentives for environmentally friendly power.

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