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Googling in the wind: The search engine giant goes green

Once upon a time, Google was a simple white web page with a little search bar.

Now, the company has its own Google Price Index, Google Television, a Google phone — even a “driverless” Google car.

So what’s next for the search giant? Apparently, green energy.

Google announced last week that it was investing at least $200 million in an unprecedented plan to build a transmission network for wind energy across the Atlantic Seabord. Called the Atlantic Wind Connection, the 350-mile spine would allow off-shore wind farms in the waters off Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey to power as many as 2 million homes, once the project gets off the ground in 2016.

A consortium of companies, including Google, announced dedication of $1.8 billion to build transmission lines to connect future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic on Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As a company, Google has drawn its fair share of criticism, from privacy advocates for example. But the wind farm project seems to have achieved a surprising amount of consensus. Both the Republican governors of New Jersey and Virginia are for it, as is the Obama administration.

To learn more about the plan, Need to Know’s Alison Stewart spoke with Rick Needham, the director of green business operations for Google and a former nuclear submarine officer. According to Needham, Google’s investment not only makes good sense, it makes good business as well.