“Last week a utility in North Carolina announced something seemingly mundane on the surface, but it was a transcendent moment for those that have been following the clean energy sector,” Katie Fehrenbacher reports for GigaOM. “Duke Energy, which generates the bulk of its energy in the state from dirty and aging coal and nuclear plants, officially asked the state’s regulators if it could sell clean power (from new sources like solar and wind farms) to large energy customers that were willing to buy it — and yes, shockingly enough, thanks to restrictive regulations and an electricity industry that moves at a glacial pace, this previously wasn’t allowed.”

“Moments after the utility’s filing hit the public record on Friday, Google, which has been publicly working with Duke Energy since the spring of this year on the clean energy buying project and has a large energy-consuming data center in Lenoir, North Carolina, published a blog post celebrating the utility’s move,” Fehrenbacher reports. “But absent from a lot of the public dialogue has been the one company that arguably has had a greater effect on bringing clean power to the state of North Carolina than any other: Apple.”

“While the state’s utility has just now become more willing to supply clean energy to corporate customers, several years ago Apple took the stance that if clean power wasn’t going to be available from the local utility for its huge data center in Maiden, North Carolina, it would, quite simply, build its own,” Fehrenbacher reports. “In an unprecedented move — and one that hasn’t yet been repeated by other companies — Apple spent millions of dollars building two massive solar panel farms and a large fuel cell farm near its data center. These projects and are now fully operational and similar facilities (owned by utilities) have cost in a range of $150 million to $200 million to build. Apple’s are the largest privately-owned clean energy facilities in the U.S. and more importantly, they represent an entirely new way for an internet company to source and think about power.”

Much more, including exclusive photos, in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "Dan K." for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple now gets 75 percent of its total power needs from renewable energy – March 21, 2013
Apple patent app describes storing rotational wind energy via heat in new on-demand electricity generator – December 27, 2012
Apple’s NC and Oregon data centers to use 100 percent renewable energy – May 17, 2012
Bloom Energy confirms they will supply fuel cells for Apple’s North Carolina data center – April 30, 2012
New aerial images of Apple’s planned NC fuel cell, solar farms published – April 7, 2012
Apple’s massive fuel cell energy project to be largest in the U.S. – April 4, 2012
Apple plans USA’s largest private fuel cell energy project in North Carolina – April 1, 2012
How Apple took the lead on the environment – February 22, 2012
Apple patent application reveals next-gen fuel cell powered Macs and iOS devices – December 22, 2011
Apple’s Mothership campus solar roof will be among biggest in U.S. – December 7, 2011
Apple working with US company, Leaf Solar Power, on North Carolina solar farm – November 8, 2011
Apple patent app details highly-advanced hydrogen fuel cells to power portable devices – October 20, 2011
Apple building huge solar farm around its billion-dollar North Carolina data center – October 26, 2011