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Congress Aces Efficiency Bill

by Becky Brun
NW Current, January 3, 2007

Early in December, the U.S. Congress unanimously decided to study and promote energy efficiency in the country’s data centers and computer servers.

Introduced by Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) in June 2006, HR 5646 is the first legislative initiative from Congress to address the issue of energy efficiency in data centers.

The bill mandates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on the growth and energy consumption trends associated with data centers. It also authorizes an overview of current government incentives offered for energy-efficient products and services, and consideration of similar incentives to encourage the adoption of energy-efficient data centers and servers. Rogers and Eshoo estimate the study would cost less than $500,000.

According to Eshoo’s office, the U.S. server market is expected to grow from 2.8 million units in 2005 to 4.9 million units in 2009. Eshoo estimates the cumulative energy cost for servers and data centers in the United States is about $3.3 billion annually. Studies have shown energy-efficient servers can save up to 80 percent in electricity and cooling costs.

Many computer manufacturers, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, maintain programs to reduce data center power consumption. Sun Microsystems has also developed servers that claim to use one-fifth the energy and one-quarter the space of other servers on the market. And northern California utility Pacific Gas & Electric offers rebates for customers that incorporate energy efficiency in their data centers.

Dell announced in early December its new line of energy-efficient PowerEdge servers. While the servers come with a higher price tag than regular Dell servers, the company claims the servers can save data centers $200 per year in energy costs. The servers incorporate high-efficiency power supplies, low-flow fan technology and low-voltage processors.

HR 5646 now awaits President Bush's signature before becoming law.

Becky Brun
Congress Aces Efficiency Bill
NW Current, January 3, 2007

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