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This chapter is from the book

Energy Utilities

This topic is covered in more detail in Chapter 5 (and specific case studies are analyzed in Chapter 9, “Green IT Case Studies for Energy Utilities”). Electric utilities provide interesting case studies because they can provide incentives for their customers to move to green IT. For example, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has worked with several IT vendors to consolidate its servers, and the company has developed new ways to measure and reduce heat in data centers. They announced this initiative in 2007 at a conference in New York City, where companies such as American Power Conversion Corp. (APC), Eaton Corp., General Electric Consumer & Industrial, IBM, and others gathered to discuss green computing and power-saving initiatives.

Before embarking on its server consolidation efforts, PG&E teamed with IBM Research to develop a tool to measure the three-dimensional temperature distributions in its data centers. IBM used its new Mobile Measurement Technology (MMT) to survey the relevant physical parameters of PG&E data centers and visualize (via 3-D images) hot spots, air leakage, and other inefficiencies. The data was then used to build customized thermal and energy models to help mitigate hot spots and rectify imbalances within the data center.

PG&E was the first company to offer incentives for power-saving technologies, encouraging customers to get rid of underutilized computing and data storage equipment through virtualization. In addition, the company recently spearheaded a coalition of utilities to discuss and coordinate energy-efficiency programs for the high-tech sector, focusing on data centers.

The online business tools offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company provide companies with help to make their data centers more efficient. The tools include the following:

  • Business Tools Features
  • Energy Usage
  • Billing History
  • Rate Comparison Tools
  • Energy Outage and Restoration Status
  • Billing Details
  • Account Aggregation

Check with your electric utility on energy audits. Some utilities such as PG&E offer free energy audits. Here’s the PG&E Web site on the free audit: http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/energysavingsrebates/analyzer/.

Of course, after your free audit, you might be eligible for rebates for your green IT initiatives. For an example, see http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/energysavingsrebates/rebatesincentives/.

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