Today, Sun Microsystems and California energy giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced an energy efficiency incentives program in the data center. According to Sun, PG&E will offer rebates to customers replacing old servers with Sun's new Sun Fire T1000 or T2000 machines.
The rebate falls under PG&E's Non Residential Retrofit program and customers replacing existing equipment with these servers can receive a cash savings between $700-$1000 per server. The one time rebate -- combined with Sun's claim for energy savings, $500 per year over competing platforms -- could result in significant savings, considering the list price for a T1000 is $3,995.
According to David Douglas, Sun's vice president of eco-responsibility, Sun and PG&E started working on the program last winter, evaluating energy trends with shared customers.
Douglas said Sun has had initial discussions with other utilities about similar programs and will use the PG&E program as the proof of concept for others. But it's unclear whether this type of program will take off in other parts of the country.
Chris Olert, spokesman for Con Edison, operators of New York City's power grid, one of the largest in the country, said this type of program wouldn't be very likely to take off in his area.
"One of the challenges would be working with state regulators," Olert said. "We encourage all customers to use electricity wisely. For our large customers we offer energy efficiency incentive programs. But as far as rebates, we probably wouldn't be issuing them down to individual appliances."
According to Douglas, one of things that would help this program take off with other utilities around the country would be more standardized server metrics. There are several parties currently involved in putting standards in place. The Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. committee (SPEC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and even Congress have gotten involved in server energy efficiency metrics recently.
"Until we have standard metrics, it's going to be hard to tell the different between Server A and Server B," Douglas said. "I think you'll see this expand as we get some standards in place."