First off, let me give credit to Harper's magazine and writer Ginger Strand for uncovering and reporting on Google's O2 project for a massive data center at The Dalles, Oregon.
When I wrote a column about the project last June and mentioned the conflict between Google championing green computing while at the same time building massive data centers, readers felt I was too hard on the company.
In that column I wrote, "But wait a minute. Isn't this the company that has built a huge search engine business by cobbling together at least 1 million (and counting) low-end servers? And, in addition to its Mountain View campus, is building huge server complexes in Oklahoma, North Carolina and Oregon to be near cheap power?
How much power does Google actually use to enable us to search for vital information about Paris Hilton or box-office receipts for "The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"? Figure that each server consumes about $200 per year in electricity costs. (I'm not even counting cooling costs.)
Why doesn't Google break out in its SEC reports what it spends on electricity to keep all those servers running? Because it doesnt have to report those costs, and, if it did, all that talk about hybrid cars, solar panels and power supplies would look very shallow against the big power consumption number.
Come on, Google, fess up. "
I don't see much fessing up on the part of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, but the Harper's article does some calculating and comes up with The Dalles facility using the equal of all the power consumed by Tacoma, Washington.
The Google O2 project as The Dalles project is called on the blueprints has been a source of much blog speculation. The company got several significant government concessions in terms of tax breaks and infrastructure buildout.
In this era of financial disclosure, it seems to me power usage disclosure should also be required wherever taxpayer funding has helped secure a private project.