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Feds give Apple approval to sell electricity

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Apple will sell power from generators it owns in Nevada, California and Arizona. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The federal government on Thursday gave iPhone maker Apple permission to begin selling electricity across the country.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the nation's grid watchdog, approved the tech giant's June 6 request to sell electricity from renewable and other energy generators it owns in Nevada, California and Arizona.

Apple joins the likes of Walmart and Google that have found the benefits in being a regulated electricity player, especially as their companies become increasingly energy-dependent.

The technology companies primarily need to manage large amounts of electricity to power their increasing number of electron-guzzling server farms, which the Department of Energy calls a growing source of electricity demand.

Apple, Microsoft and Google are securing large contracts with renewable energy producers because of the ability of wind farms to lock in low fixed rates over nearly three decades.

Bloomberg reported last month that Google beat the Pentagon in its use of renewable energy for electricity. The U.S. military is one of the largest consumers of energy in the country, if not the world.

The commission said in its Thursday approval letter that it could start selling power on Saturday.

The approval provides Apple Inc.'s subsidiary Apple Energy with the ability to sell energy, capacity and other electricity services at market-based rates, according to the commission.

"Based on your representations, Apple Energy meets the criteria for a Category 1 seller in all regions and is so designated," the commission said.

Apple Energy owns 19.9 megawatts of generation in the Nevada market, owns and operates 50 megawatts in the Arizona utility region and another 130 megawatts of generation in the California market.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.