Gary Cook and his colleagues at Greenpeace have reported for several years running on the environmental credentials of major data center industry players, focusing mainly on internet-based companies that many consumers would recognize.
The point of the reports is to grade these companies on a slate of metrics from how much "green" power they use (nuclear doesn't count!) to how forthcoming they are about their practices.
The latest report has gotten more attention than ever, perhaps because it seems some players have taken the grading to heart and moved way up in the rankings. Apple, Google, and Facebook are the new winners, while Amazon (and AWS) and collocation operators are now solidly in the criticism cross hairs.
What does attention look like? Reports in mainstream press outlets like Salon and Wired, coverage in environmental media like Climateprogress, and of course industry press like Datacenter Dynamics. There's even reporting of Grennpeace's awareness campaign featuring a blimp flying over Silicon Valley Tech campuses spreading the word.
I don't think you can overstate the impact that the report is now having, notwithstanding Amazon's stiff-arming. Some of the new leaders on the grade chart used to have pretty bad marks indeed.
And even if the laggards do nothing to improve their status, there is a clear preference now in the data center industry to source renewable power. Google has done it, Facebook is doing it, and Apple is almost wholly sourcing it.
Apple even used it's buying power to convince regulators and Duke Energy to debut a new program so that they could purchase new renewables (an addition to whatever Duke was already sourcing) for their data center in Maiden, NC.
So if you are a utility seeking to attract development from these big players, I think having some kind of renewable purchasing scheme or direct access provision is now crucial, in addition to your current and future rates and ability to serve very large loads responsively.