Microsoft Data Center Wasting Energy to Avoid Fines

As a follow up to my previous post on Internet pollution which discussed the amount of electrical consumption and wasteful energy practices by data centers; a post from the NY Times today really summed up the national mentality towards the consumption of energy and the wastefulness of the industry.

Microsoft Data Center

The Microsoft Redmond Quincy data center, which is the home of Bing and Hotmail and other cloud based servers, had a contract with a Washington state utility which contained clauses that imposed severe penalties for the under-consumption of electricity.

Microsoft was fined $210 000 for not meeting its “power-use target”. In an effort to avoid such a sizable penalty this year, Microsoft deliberately consumed millions of watts of power within three days in a “commercially unproductive manner” to avoid the fine being levied against them. The Washington utility board capitulated and reduced the amount to $60k. While the Redmond center claims that it is moving to a carbon neutral footprint, this squandering of energy shows that both groups care little for the environment and are more concerned with the almighty dollar.

With industry becoming ever increasingly more environmentally conscious, such blatant wastefulness cannot go unchecked. It seems that both the power company and the consumer are at fault in this situation. You cannot blame Microsoft for trying to save money; yet why is the power company charging such outrageous amounts for “under-consumption” in the first place? This model forces unneeded energy consumption for the sole purpose of avoiding a fine. This entire model is flawed as it has no regard for the environmental impact for this amount of wastefulness.

With alternate energy technologies becoming commonplace and affordable, we can only guess as to why data centers continue to waste such copious amounts of energy with such blatant disregard to the environment. Certainly the same laws that apply to more traditional dirty industries needs to be applied here as well.

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