US governors team with Google energy savings initiative

Computers with energy efficient components cost US$30 extra

Two states have vowed to buy energy efficient computers, in a partnership between the Google-founded Climate Savers Computing Initiative and a National Governors Association program.

The governors of Kansas and Minnesota said that they're willing to spend the required additional US$30 per computer when the states buy their more than 4,000 PCs each year. That's about how much more a computer with special energy saving components costs. The governors said they expect to pay off that additional investment quickly and possibly save even more through reduced energy costs.

"As with many energy efficient pieces of equipment, there is a slightly increased out-front capital cost but over the life of the computer you actually recoup those savings so we think it's a win-win situation," said Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius during a conference call to discuss the announcement.

In addition, as large buyers such as states purchase the more energy efficient computers, they'll begin to drive down the cost of the PCs, said Bill Weihl, vice president and board member of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative as well as the clean energy director for Google. "When these efficient systems are sold in high volumes, that price premium will become small if not zero," he said.

In addition, the governors said they plan to implement technology that automatically puts all state computers into sleep mode at around 5:30 p.m. as a way to save energy using current generation computers. Users who might still be at work can override the sleep mode, Sebelius said.

The governors joined with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative through Securing a Clean Energy Future, an NGA program launched in July to encourage governors to implement clean energy policies at the state level. Sebelius and her counterpart in Minnesota, Governor Tim Pawlenty, say they plan to approach governors in other states about following their lead.

Google and Intel, along with 25 other organizations including Dell, HP, IBM and Lenovo, introduced the Climate Savers Computing Initiative in June. They've set a schedule for computer manufacturers to use increasingly efficient power supplies and other components in order to prevent wasted energy in computers.

The program grew out of Google's internal experiences building servers for its data centers, Weihl said. In the future, Google expects to share even more lessons it has learned in more efficiently running its data centers, he said.

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