While much of Southern California is currently faced with the prospect of having to get by with 0 watts of electricity, a single company in the same state is sucking on 260 million watts of the stuff continuously, or a quarter the output of your average nuclear plant. That company is Google.

Their energy statistics have been kept under lock and key until today, when they were revealed in a NYT piece. The secrecy was not over shame over that ridiculously huge number — thought that may have played a part — but rather because the company was concerned competitors might use the data to track their rate of growth, as well as to divine precious trade secrets based on how their energy was allocated.

But since Google is now fully secure in their position as The Borg of search engines, then what the hell, they're revealing all! What? Did you think all those cupcake recipes and vanity searches just appear magically after God blinks his eyes? Well, they do, but getting Google to make God blink his eyes takes a shitload of electricity.

Google, however, insists the investment pays dividends:

[T]he company asserts that the world is a greener place because people use less energy as a result of the billions of operations carried out in Google data centers. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, drives to the library. "They look big in the small context," Urs Hoelzle, Google's senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said in an interview.

So keep hunting down for rare examples of niche fetish porn! You're actually helping the planet. [NYT, image via Google]