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Tested and Proven: The Nation’s First Data Center Energy Efficiency Grant Returns for a Fifth Year

By David Giusti, MEA Program Manager

Launched in 2016, the Data Center Energy Efficiency Grant (DCEEG) was the first of its kind from any state government to address energy needs of data centers. Data centers use an enormous amount of energy, consuming 100 to 200 times the electricity of a standard office. Plus, data centers run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no holidays for data centers. 

How much energy do data centers require? In 2014 data centers used 90 billion kilowatt hours of energy, which is equivalent to the energy output of 34 large coal fired power plants. Historically, data centers have wasted nearly 90% of the energy they consume. The good news is that data centers have been working to address this through improved hardware, cloud computing and energy efficiency measures. According to a new Science study published in February, 2020, these steps have helped to quell the anticipated energy spike from the sector. Now that power use is steady we all have a unique opportunity to make data centers the model of an energy efficient industry.  

Designed to support Maryland’s robust and growing information technology sector the DCEEG is a competitive program that encourages the implementation of cost effective energy efficiency technologies. This program improves the energy efficiency of data centers and builds the public/private relationship. Over the past four years this program has seen a consistently high demand. 

One grantee  was able to save 50% on their energy costs and realize a potential new revenue stream as a result of their energy efficiency upgrades. This organization was able to condense the number of servers and free up floor space which they can now rent out to other data center enterprises.

To better understand these energy savings the total 6, 178, 804 kWh of energy saved across these 7 projects is enough energy to power 514 Maryland homes for an entire year.

Success Story – Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente received a DCEEG $200,000 grant to complete energy efficiency actions in its regional data center in Silver Spring.  The improvements are estimated to save over 3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) which is enough energy to power 250 Maryland homes for an entire year. The annual energy cost savings of these upgrades was more than $360,000 back to Kaiser Permanente. To read more about this project, click here.

MEA was only one of 6 US organizations recognized and the only state energy office nominated

Garnering global attention in the tech world
In 2018, the DCEEG grant was named as a finalist for a 2018 Global Data Center Award, presented by DatacenterDynamics, an international business-to-business media and publishing company. Maryland’s DCEEG was selected from over 200 global entries as a finalist in the Industry Initiative of the Year category. Only a very small number of U.S. entries made the final cut, most of which are fortune 500 companies located in Silicon Valley, California. Maryland was the only state energy office  to be recognized by the global technology industry for a public program. 

New Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Grant Open
The FY21 DCEEG awards will range from $20,000 to $200,000 per eligible project, subject to funding availability. Sample data center upgrades may include but are not limited to: air flow optimization, building insulation and envelope improvements, lighting, server virtualization / server decommissioning and consolidation, and uninterruptible power supply upgrades. 

Awards are designed to cover up to 50% of the net customer cost (up to $200,000) for innovative and cost-effective energy efficiency solutions.​ MEA will now offer smaller grants up to $50,000 to data floor facility size of 1,000 square feet to 1,999 square feet for cost-effective energy efficiency measures. Applications are due December 18th, 2020, click here to apply.