Many of us in the data center industry - or in the power business - have watched with some bemusement as utility-scale data center operators champion the energy efficient designs of their facilities on one hand, while seeking the lowest possible power costs on the other.
Those low costs in rare cases come from sweet deals with municipal utilities with clean power generation portfolios - like hydro power in eastern Washington. But more often than not, cheap electricity comes with the environmental "price" of being sourced from coal-fired power plants.
Well, I guess Greenpeace is less amused, and certainly more forthright in criticizing this practice. According to the New York Times Green blog, the environmental group is using social networking to criticize Facebook for the location of their new data center in Oregon, and more particularly where local utility PacifiCorp sources the power that will serve the site.
Facebook defends the location as ideal for taking advantage of free cooling, and while I can't divulge everything I know about their operations, I can say that Facebook is in the vanguard of companies driving innovation in energy efficient IT equipment.
But Greenpeace has a point, and one that can be fairly extended to the utility-scale data center market as a whole.
The resolution of this conundrum, in my view, is an increased partnership between the industry and utilities, addressing energy efficiency, demand response, and yes, power sourcing. The IT industry as a whole needs to engage proactively in these matters to avoid potentially damaging criticism now and in the future.