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Intel scales EPA 'green' list

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For the past several years, IT vendors have been heavy on the lectures about how companies need to get with it and go green. But do they take their own advice?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working with an organization called the Green Power Partnership, puts out a quarterly report that tracks companies; local, state, and federal governments; and educational institutions in the United States who file reports with the EPA to show how much renewable power they buy and what percentage of their power requirements come from green sources. Companies that do their own on-site power generation and offer green power products get to add the watts they generate or save into the mix.

So how do the IT vendors rank compared to other organizations? Well, in the National Top 50 ranking of companies, Intel is the top consumer of green power, with 1.3 terawatt-hours of annual green power usage, which represents 46 per cent of Intel's global power consumption.

<pp>Intel gets its green power from wind generators PNM and Sterling Planet, according to the EPA rankings. (Top consumer is a strange way to rank companies, considering that what you really want is companies to go to 100 per cent green power and to reduce their power usage). But considering how much power it takes to make computer chips, that Intel is even getting close to pulling half of its juice from renewable sources is remarkable.

PC and server maker Dell uses a mix of biogas, solar, and wind energy to power itself, and it had an annual electric usage (and some generation or credits or something) that hit 533.7 gigawatt-hours, which represented 158 per cent of the actual power the company uses to run itself. The EPA report does not explain the numbers, but it looks like Dell is allowed to count the electricity savings in its Energy Smart server and PC designs as green power.

Cisco Systems is ranked number nine on the list and uses 401 gigawatt-hours annually, representing 46 per cent of its total power consumption. Cisco gets wind-created juice from Austin Energy and Sterling Planet, according to the EPA.

By the way, the EPA itself is ranked number 14 on the list, with 285 gigawatt-hours of green power used - representing 100 per cent of its power use in a year, which comes from biogas, biomass, geothermal, and wind sources.

Motorola came in at number 44 on the list, with 78.4 gigawatt-hours of green power used, but that only represented 20 per cent of its total annual power consumption. Motorola gets its green electricity from wind power company Native Energy.

Number 46 on the list is chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, which burned 73.7 gigawatt-hours of juice, representing 102 per cent of its power consumption. (Like Dell, AMD seems to be getting some credit for the power saving features in its products). AMD relies on Austin Energy for its biogas and wind power.

Sun Microsystems, which has talked the most about green power, is absent from the rankings, and it is not clear why. Hewlett-Packard's facilities in Oregon and Idaho made a separate ranking of companies in the Fortune 500 (which eliminates government and educational organizations and most businesses in the United States). Those two HP facilities used a combined 6.7 gigawatt-hours of green power, but that only represented 3 per cent of the total power these facilities consume.

If anything, the rankings point of that most companies, whether they are in the IT sector or not, haven't done their paperwork with the EPA and therefore are not being ranked. IBM has a tiny office in California that has done its paperwork, but it is kind of embarrassing that Sun, IBM, and HP, who talk the loudest about green IT these days, are not proving that they are moving to green power consumption themselves. ®

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