Like other big companies before it, including Walmart and Google, Apple recently received a federal designation for its energy subsidiary that allows it to become a wholesale seller of electricity from coast to coast. In effect, Apple is creating its own green utility company, although the main customer is itself.
As a wholesaler, Apple could reduce the cost of its electricity load, which reached 831 million kilowatt-hours in the last fiscal year — enough to power about 76,000 homes for a year. But like a growing number of corporations, Apple is intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production which is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
In one ambitious venture, Apple has contracted with First Solar to begin buying a little less than half of the power later this year from California Flats, a solar energy farm now under construction. Under the terms of the deal, Apple will pay $848 million for the electricity over 25 years and receive the farm’s total output by the end of the agreement. It is one of largest commercial clean energy contracts yet.