ComEd Launches Data Center Efficiency Program

by | Aug 10, 2012

ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon, has introduced an efficiency program aimed at reducing the energy use of data centers.

The utility will work with data center designers, owners and tenants to maximize energy efficiency and improve operations. The utility will provide per-kWh financial incentives and technical assistance.

ComEd has two dedicated data center specialists who already serve as energy liaisons to more than 60 data centers in northern Illinois. These experts will work with both new and existing businesses to reduce utility bills by helping offset the cost of building or modernizing their equipment and facilities.

The efficiency program will help data centers optimize cooling and improve power delivery and IT capabilities, ComEd said.

Data centers, the large facilities that house computer servers and other systems, can consume 100 to 200 times more electricity than standard office spaces, the company said.

Less than half the power used by a typical data center powers its IT equipment, according to the US Department of Energy – and ComEd puts the figure at 30 percent (see chart above). The remaining energy is used to support infrastructure including cooling systems, UPS inefficiencies, power distribution losses and lighting, the DOE said.

By 2012, the power costs for data center equipment over its useful life are expected to exceed the cost of the original capital investment, the DOE said.

Companies with large data centers operations, such as Apple, Google, HP, and eBay, have taken a variety of measures to reduce energy, improve efficiency and shrink their carbon footprint.

Internet auction site eBay announced in June that the next phase of its flagship data center in Utah would be powered by fuel cells from Bloom Energy, allowing the new section of the facility to run independently from the power grid.

Also in June, Swiss power company ABB and IT firm Green unveiled a data center expansion in Zurich that uses direct current technology, in an effort to reduce the number of power conversions and increase efficiency.

Apple announced in May it would power its 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C., entirely with renewable energy by the end of year.

In June, utility Xcel Energy filed its proposed Conservation Improvement Program, a three-year plan that includes an energy efficiency program targeted to commercial customers, including data centers.

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