April 24, 2012

Ebay installs solar panels after Utah lobbying victory

Ebay has installed its largest renewable energy project - a 665 kW solar installation at its Topaz data center in South Jordan, Utah - enabled by a recent legislative victory. Senate Bill 12, signed into law on March 21, allows companies to buy and transmit power directly from renewable energy developers. 

Ebay lobbied for the law with an association of data center professionals representing 1,000 companies in 66 countries, including Google, Oracle, Twitter and Adobe. The Utah legislation is free-market based, giving choice to major energy users when it comes to sourcing their energy, according to Mindy Lubber, president of investor advocacy organization Ceres, writing in Forbes. That reduces exposure to fossil fuel prices and increases a company's ability to control energy costs, Lubber said. 

Ebay's 72,000-sq.-ft solar power system, designed and installed by SPG Solar, will produce 924,013 kWh of clean electricity annually. The company expects that the installation will pay for itself in four years through lower electricity bills, federal stimulus dollars and tax incentives. 

Ebay's combined renewable energy capacity is now almost 2 MW, or 11 percent of its total U.S. data center electricity demand. Its other renewable installations include a 100 kW solar array in Denver, and a 650 kW array and 500 kW Bloom fuel cell at its San Jose headquarters. 

Lubber said that the buy-green option was critical for Ebay's continued growth in the state, and the company now plans to build a second Utah data center employing another 2,200 people. She said the legislation is also likely to increase Utah’s economic competitiveness as other companies look at the state's renewable energy options.


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