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Intel, Sun and 3Com have joined with other high tech firms in Silicon Valley to try to side-step the predicted power outages on California's power grid. The companies have all agreed to reduce their power consumption by ten per cent, upon request from Silicon Valley Power.

Power blackouts can cost the industry as much as $75 million per day, according to economist's estimates. The group has been brought together to try to eliminate the outages at times of peak demand.

Last summer saw 31 days of power emergencies in the region. The constant high power air conditioning systems shoulder most of the blame.

For example, Intel reckons that by raising the temperature by just one or two degrees Fahrenheit in its million square feet of office space in Santa Clara, it could save 3.5 MW. Meanwhile, 3Com said it has installed energy efficient lighting and new climate control systems. It also employed motion detectors to cut the lights in cubicles not in use.

Networking company 3Com said it had installed energy efficient lighting and new heating-air conditioning systems in 1.2 million square feet of offices at 13 buildings in Santa Clara. The company also placed motion sensors to shut off lights in more than 2,000 office cubicles when they are not being used.

The power company said that the blackouts would continue to be a problem until the region has more power generation facilities. It would not say how much power the efforts of the high tech firms could save. ®

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