EPA Wants Tax Breaks

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-08-06 Print this article Print

for IT Energy Efficiency"> The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys Energy Star program has submitted a report to Congress calling for tax incentives to promote IT energy conservation. The report predicts that energy consumption by servers and data centers will double by 2011 and calls on the federal government to lead by example to achieve energy conservation goals.
The report stresses that the industry must focus on building only low-power, Energy Star-rated servers in order to slow demand for electrical power. It also outlines existing and emerging opportunities for energy efficiency and voluntary programs to promote energy-efficient servers and data centers.
The Energy Star certification is similar to existing programs for household appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and clothes dryers. The report, originally due to Congress on June 16, was requested by Congress in legislation passed in December 2006, introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Read more here about why Congress initiated the study of energy consumption in the nations data centers. The EPAs Aug. 3 report to Congress highlights these key findings:
  • Assuming current trends continue, the national energy consumption by servers and data centers is expected to nearly double by 2011.
  • Data centers consumed about 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2006, roughly 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption, or about $4.5 billion in electricity costs.
  • Federal servers and data centers alone account for approximately 6 billion kWh (10 percent) of this electricity use, at a total electricity cost of about $400 million per year.
  • Existing technologies and strategies could reduce typical server energy use by 25 percent—even greater energy savings are possible with advanced technologies.
The report augments the EPAs ongoing efforts to develop new energy efficiency specifications for data servers, including market and technical research, industry collaboration, and explorations into a new Energy Star buildings benchmark for data centers, which reflects an entire buildings energy efficiency. The EPA report recommends a mix of programs and incentives, as well as a holistic approach to achieve significant savings. Recommendations include the following:
  • Financial incentives, e.g. tax credits and utility rebates
  • An Energy Star whole-building performance rating system for data centers
  • Standardized performance metrics for data centers
  • Federal leadership through best practices, public/private partnerships, education, training and development of Energy Star specifications for servers and related product categories
  • Federal/industry research and development
Eshoo welcomed the recommendations of the EPA Energy Star study. "Data centers are essential to our ability to process, store and transmit information in the digital age," Eshoo said in a statement on her Web site. "They consume enormous amounts of energy. Thats why we have to ensure they operate at the highest level of efficiency. "The EPA Energy Star study provides sound policy recommendations and strategies to increase data center energy efficiency, which will result in significant financial savings, reduce demands on power generators and have a smaller impact on the environment," Eshoo said. The process that led to the report got started at a meeting in Silicon Valley last February, in which IT companies and service providers were shown an eye-opening report from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Stanford University about the rapid rate of power consumption in data centers during the last five years. That report, written by Stanford Professor Jon Koomey,"Estimating Total Power Consumption by Servers in the U.S. and the World," (PDF) was funded by AMD and peer-reviewed by the major server and processor makers, including Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Dell. Page 2: EPA Wants Tax Breaks for IT Energy Efficiency

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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