DCP Calls for Federal Efficiency Incentives

Should the federal government get into the business of providing efficiency incentives for data centers? Data Center Pulse thinks so, and has proposed that the U.S. government implement a system of financial incentives to reduce the energy used by data centers.

Rich Miller

May 19, 2009

2 Min Read
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Should the federal government get into the business of providing efficiency incentives for data centers? Data Center Pulse thinks so, and has proposed that the U.S. government implement a system of financial incentives to reduce the energy used by data centers. 

In a proposal to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the board of directors of Data Center Pulse argues that current industry efforts are making little progress in making data centers more efficient, and that a federally-backed program that combines education and rebates is the best way to achieve meaningful reductions.  

"Proven energy efficiency solutions exist for data centers that dramatically improve efficiency of power usage," the group writes. "However, adoption rate is abysmal. Solutions have existed for over 5 years, but are not adopted due to risk aversion, misunderstanding or lack of corporate prioritization. Decisions are based on a limited knowledge of the long term ROI potential."

Data Center Pulse, an end-user group organized through online networking tools,  proposes that the federal government invest $200 million in incentives. Those funds would be combined with $200 million from local utilities, with Data Center Pulse managing an education initiative advocating the benefits of virtualization and air economizers.  

"If the U.S. Government backed a simplified national program in combination with local and regional power utility districts, there’s a very strong possibility that the United States could realize up to 50% of the potential power savings in the course of 12-24 months post program rollout," the DCP proposal continues. "In addition to improving our nation’s energy self-reliance goals, we would be boosting the economy in several very important segments of technology and manufacturing."

The Data Center Pulse proposal uses rebates as a carrot to encourage data centers to invest in efficiency. What's not clear is whether rebates would convince data center operators to document their data center energy usage for the federal government or submit to audits that would validate efficiency gains. The EPA's data collection effort for its Energy Star for Data Centers program struggled to gain enough participants and again in the data sharing phase.

There's also the question of whether the administration can be convinced that its plans for a cap-and-trade system would be insufficient motivation for companies to improve the energy efficiency of their data centers. A cap and trade system would set limits on corporate emissions, but allow companies to purchase or sell capacity in a carbon trading market. Companies that fail to meet their caps would face penalties.

In fact, recent industry surveys suggest that data center executives are focused on the potential impact of greenhouse gas regulation, with 81 percent saying that carbon credits are now part of their IT strategy.

Does the Data Center Pulse proposal have merit? Let us know in the comments.

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