In case you haven’t heard, Facebook recently announced the development of its first data center in Prineville, Oregon, and instead of buying electricity from a clean source within the state, they’re going to mostly rely on coal electricity. Why?
“With the price of hydropower increasing in the Northwest, Facebook opted to bet on the incremental price increases associated with coal rather than face tier-two pricing from BPA.
Brian Oley, a data center site selection expert at the real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said it’s no secret that the Northwest’s hydropower is getting tapped out. Oley expects that when tier-two pricing kicks in, prices will increase from two cents per kWh to six or seven cents.”
As Treehugger notes, datacenters such as the one Facebook is building are big energy hogs
“Data center power use of the last decade is astounding. In 2000, data centers comprised 0.8 percent of total US electrical consumption, but just 5 years later, data centers’ power consumption grew to 1.4 percent of the total energy use in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration.”
What’s interesting here is how Facebook is clearly aware that they’re making an unpopular decision. They touted the energy efficiency measures taken to minimize the environmental impact of the data center, and posted an official defense of their decision on Treehugger by touting the energy efficiency measures again.
They don’t seem to be addressing the head on issue of what KIND of power they’re using. Efficiency is good, coal is terrible on emissions of every kind which damage human health at every stage of the lifecycle and causes climate change. An energy efficient coal-powered building does NOT make for a green building. Sorry Facebook.
But I think they know that too. I’m hearing from multiple users they’ve started censoring Facebook groups which include the words “Facebook and coal”. This was the most recent comment on TreeHugger…
“Facebook has, without warning, deleted the FB-group “Tell Facebook to use clean energy in its data center.” The group existed for merely two days, was very popular and swiftly growing. At the moment of its deletion the group had about 700 members and there were over 3000 invitations to join the group, send out by its members, which were not yet responded upon. The number of group memberships was rising exponential. Also at the moment of deletion the groups creator was in the progress to join forces with a major environmental movement to mobilize the public and to let them show their dismay by becoming member of the group. Which would have boosted membership even more.
We regret the undemocratic tactics which Facebook has applied in this matter.”
They’re clearly afraid of this one getting around because they know what they’re doing as wrong. If you have a Facebook account, please join the group “Get Facebook Off Coal” , and sign this petition.
Lets get Facebook off coal.