I had the good fortune of attending a portion of the Green Grid Technical Forum in Santa Clara last week, and seeing Corban Lester's presentation based on a new white paper that analyzes utility server virtualization/consolidation incentive programs. (Presentation only available for Green Grid members.) Corban is with Lockheed Martin and heads up the Green Grid's Utility Task Force.
The paper and presentation did a reasonable job explaining why utilities have entered the data center and information technology markets with their energy efficiency programs. I have quibbles on minor points: I don't think efficiency program managers are as risk averse as portrayed, or that utilities are attracted to the market because it has a high PR profile. Utilities are scrambling for savings to meet their targets, and have an obligation in many cases to address all energy use sectors.
What I do support in the paper is the conclusion that utility incentives for server virtualization and consolidation is still appropriate despite decisions by California utilities (and BC Hydro) to end their programs.
A tailored program offering that targets smaller enterprise customers rather than sophisticated IT shops is still needed to drive market penetration and adoption of virtualization - my reading of the market reports says eighty or ninety percent of the market is untouched. That represents an incredible opportunity to drive energy efficiency in the short term, slowing the need for new data center capacity.