Apple gets green light to sell clean energy

The US tech giant has gained approval to start selling excess clean energy generated at projects powering its data centres.

US smartphone and computer maker Apple has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin selling excess energy generated at its renewables sites.

The FERC has approved a request the group made on 7 June to list Apple Energy, a subsidiary, as a power company that will sell electricity, capacity and other services generated from projects connected to Apple-operated data centres. The commission made the conclusion that the tech giant's ability to unfairly hike up power prices will remain limited.

The FERC said Apple will be selling electricity in markets administered by utilities including PJM Interconnection in the northeast US, New York Independent System Operator, ISO New England, California Independent System Operator, Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Southwest Power Pool.

Apple owns data centres in California, Oregon, Nevada and North Carolina. It holds stakes in a 67.5MW solar project in North Carolina, a 19.9MW plant in Nevada, a 50MW farm in Arizona and has a 25-year power purchase agreement to buy energy from a 130MW solar project in California. The company also owns two hydroelectric plants in Oregon, generating a combined 3.3MW.

In February, Apple announced it would issue a $1.5 billion green bond to build more renewables projects to power its facilities. It said proceeds would also be used to invest in greener product materials and boost energy efficiency.

In recent years, other US tech groups have ridden the renewables wave to power their energy-hungry data centres around the world. In July, Google agreed to buy 236MW of wind power in Norway and Sweden, the latest of a string of renewables PPAs signed by the Silicon Valley stalwart.