Big tech companies join fight for clean power standards
Almost two years ago, President Obama unveiled the EPA's Clean Power Plan which will require a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants compared to 2005 levels by 2030. The plan laid out the various benefits of such a move, including decreased nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide particle pollution and improved respiratory health in children and fewer premature deaths from air pollution.
Although the new rule will cost $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion annually, it will lead to economic benefits of $55 billion to $93 billion over the life of the rule.
Many environmentalists called this the bare minimum the U.S. should be committing to, but a group of 25 states has been battling the rule since it was announced. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which put the rule on hold in February awaiting a decision from an appeals court.
Last Friday, with the hopes of turning the tide in the Clean Power Plan's favor, the country's tech giants Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft came together to support the rule. The group filed a brief with the DC Circuit court in support of the program. The tech companies pointed to the fact that, together, they are among the country's largest electricity users and that more renewable energy is both good for the planet and for business.
Collectively, the companies used 10 million MWh of electricity last year, which includes 50 data centers in 12 states.
"With the plan in place, growth in renewable energy will continue, as electricity generators and sellers will have even more reasons to work with significant purchasers... to develop new approaches that support renewable energy," the brief said.
The companies noted their own efforts to increase the amount of renewable energy their businesses use at their data centers, office buildings and across their business. Microsoft, for example, has built an off-grid data center as a testing ground for ideas that could lead to larger data centers running mostly off renewable energy. Google and Apple have both included large renewable energy installations at data centers and Google has signed contracts to purchase over 2 GW of renewable energy which makes them the largest non-utility purchaser of renewable energy in the world.
A post about the brief on Google's blog said, "The message from our companies today is clear -- we can meet the world’s future energy challenges in a way that drives innovation and growth while tackling climate change."
Hopefully the input of these large companies will help the rule to stay in place.