Google Inc. has created a $100 million venture fund to invest in green technology companies, among others. One of its first announced investments is with Silver Spring Networks.

Silver Spring has become one of the most popular green companies over the last eighteen months. The company essentially makes a networking board that can fit into power meters and other devices. Once in place, the networking cards form a network that can monitor and curb electricity consumption. The network can also monitor gas and water consumption. Silver Spring has a massive contract with PG&E that will lead to millions of Silver Spring meters in Northern California.

The company is so flush with money that, as one VC told us recently, it turned away offers for new investment.

Google is also interested in smart metering. Last month it launched new prototype software, PowerMeter, to measure home energy use (see Google Gets Into Home Energy Management). It now wants utilities to adopt it. PowerMeter puts Google in competition with several small startups with similar software.

The search company has already invested in solar companies like eSolar and wind ones like Makani Power, but mostly though its philanthropic arm. Now, investments will come out of the venture group. Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have invested their own money in companies like Nanosolar. 


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