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New Law Lets Data Centers Hide Power Usage

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the users-and-abusers dept.

The Internet 208

1sockchuck writes "Just days after Google announced that it may build a huge data center in the state, Oklahoma's governor has signed a bill into law that will effectively exempt the largest customers of municipal power companies from public disclosure of how much power they are using. Officials of the state's power industry say the measure is not a 'Google Law' but was sought 'on behalf of large-volume electric users that might be considering a move to Oklahoma.' Others acknowledge that data center operators were among those seeking the law, apparently arguing that the details of their enormous power usage are a trade secret. Google recently acquired 800 acres in Pryor, Oklahoma for possible development as a data center, and is reportedly seeking up to 15 megawatts of power for the facility."

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208 comments

New Corporate Motto (5, Funny)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724797)

Effective Immediately: Do some Evil. Just, you know, not too much.

Re:New Corporate Motto (3, Interesting)

Guanix (16477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725007)

Reminds me of a story of a Supreme Court oral argument once, where a Justice made a reference to the First Amendment. The lawyer arguing the case replied, "Your Honor, you know, and I know, that when it says, 'Congress shall make no law,' it actually means, 'Congress may make some law.' "

Re:New Corporate Motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18726431)

It is not a law, its a memorandum of understanding, got it?

What's purple and hangs (2, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725051)

12 inches below Eric Schmidt's waist?

The governor of Oklahoma's tie.

Re:What's purple and hangs (2, Funny)

freedomlinux (1072142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725561)

Oklahoma's tie has a governor?
yeah, yeah, I know...

Re:New Corporate Motto (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725363)

A Troll? I don't think so. At least an insightful troll anyway.

There's plenty of evil that can be done once you don't have to record your resource consumption. OK, I doubt Google is going to become the largest marijuana grow-op in the United States, but anything that leaves accounting to the imagination will inevitably end up considering evil since there's no fear of being caught.

And? (5, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724805)

There's got to be a point in here somewhere. I wasn't aware that A) you could check on how much power someone else was using or that B) it was any of your business or that C) you could do diddely-squat about it.

Someone care to enlighten me?

Re:And? (2, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724877)

Psst. The real secret here is that Al Gore is planning to open a huge data center.

I am not an Economist, but... (5, Informative)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724885)

Power Companies are granted monopolies by the public. Part of the deal is that, because the power companies are granted a monopoly by the public, they have to publicize all transactions they undertake.

Why? Otherwise, you could have sweat-heart deals between the power companies and their customers. Instead of paying the power company (and thereby the people) for your power usage, you could pay the owners of the power company to give you a huge discount. The power copmany then can just raise rates on consumers who have no say in who gives them power. By forcing the company to keep the books open, you prevent the possibility of impropriety.

I would argue that such issues are a good reason to switch to more heavily privatized models. Ideally, the government would maintain the infrastructure, and anybody who wanted could add power to the grid. That'd be sweet.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725097)

>sweat-heart deals

If you use such new coinings on your blog, I have to read it!

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725331)

I can detect that you were attempting to mock the gp, but I think you failed.

I, at least, am left unimpressed.

Pork (2, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725323)

I am not making this up.
From TFA: "At a pork barbecue celebrating the announcement of the data center deal, Google held a question and answer session with local dignitaries..."

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725349)

We've had a privatized model in the UK for a while now and it works pretty well. People shop around for the best deal and there are tariff comparison sites on the internet that will help you find the best deal.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (1)

acidrain (35064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725415)

So... Google is able to use it's purchasing power to force a state protected monopoly to give it an unfair deal compared to other customers of the utility. The politicians pass a law keeping this a secret, and in doing so they can claim to be giving their state an advantage, and at the same time avoid publicizing the embarrassingly large handout they are allowing.

Interesting. Hard cash sounds like a much more likely reason for Google chose one location over another. Although a little privacy never hurt.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726137)

Though given Data Centers in general are one of the few rate heavy power users who use as much or more power at night than the day can present a cost savings to the power company. Especially if this center installs solar/etc meaning it uses more energy at night than the day. Trust me Google is still paying millions for its energy, but this allows the Energy Companies to use those millions to expand their offerings when ultimatly Google is adding less than this cost to the peak usage figure.

I am not a bill, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725899)

"Power Companies are granted monopolies by the public. Part of the deal is that, because the power companies are granted a monopoly by the public, they have to publicize all transactions they undertake."

So were can I look at your electric bill?

"Why? Otherwise, you could have sweat-heart deals between the power companies and their customers. Instead of paying the power company (and thereby the people) for your power usage, you could pay the owners of the power company to give you a huge discount. The power copmany then can just raise rates on consumers who have no say in who gives them power. By forcing the company to keep the books open, you prevent the possibility of impropriety."

"Economics of scale" doesn't apply to "volume buyers"? Also "public utility" in no way implies that the public owns the electricity generated. Just the infrastructure. That's why I have to pay for my electricity the same as everyone else. And last that's why public utilities have oversight. If they want to raise rates (much like any company wanting to raise prices). They have to justify it, and no "we discounted too steeply" doesn't count.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (2, Insightful)

NickDngr (561211) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725965)

I would argue that such issues are a good reason to switch to more heavily privatized models. Ideally, the government would maintain the infrastructure, and anybody who wanted could add power to the grid. That'd be sweet.
Yeah, because that worked so well in California.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726057)

>Part of the deal is that, because the power companies are granted a monopoly by the public, they have to publicize all transactions they undertake.

Bullshit; I can't see my neighbor's power bill.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726097)

Oklahoma already has a privatized system, and it costs about $250/month to get electricity in a studio apartment during the summer. The prices soared after the privatized it, because the reigning power company has no viable local competitors, and thus gave OG&E an economically enforced (rather than government enforced) monopoly. Remember, corporations are out to ream you for whatever they can. A competitive market can mitigate, and a government monopoly can keep up minimum requirements. When you have neither, as is the case in Oklahoma, then you merely give the only power company in town free reign to charge whatever it feels like. And what are you going to do then, just not have electricity? Oklahoma is the whipping boy of corporate America. I should know, I lived there for 22 years.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18726381)

it costs about $250/month to get electricity in a studio apartment during the summer

If that's including hot water, that is outrageous. Obscene if it's not.

In Arizona, you could cool a 3800sqft home in the summer all day for a little over $500 during the hottest month.
Sure that's expensive but it's better than $250/month to cool a little 700sqft apartment.

Re:I am not an Economist, but... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726385)

Pay to get a discount? Am I the only one who doesnt get that?

Re:And? (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724969)

My guess is:

Later, the power company comes back and says "Hey, public, we're running out of power, and we need to build three more coal-fired power plants near your town, and by the way, we want to avoid regulations that require us to clean our exhaust because that would hurt our bottom line."

The public says "No way, I don't want your pollution clogging my air, worsening my asthma, and causing my city to become subject to EPA regulations. I resent you trying to avoid cleaning up your own mess. By the way, who's driving this demand for power? Is it big business or folks like me, because I know I try to conserve my power use by turning off lights and even switching to CFLs? I don't want to pay (in terms of taxes or pollution) for power generated to serve some big out-of-state business, especially one that doesn't generate many local jobs."

Then, the power company says "-snicker- We can't tell you who is using the power. Just give us the plants or we'll do rolling blackouts on your homes and schools."

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725347)

The public says "No way, I don't want your pollution clogging my air, worsening my asthma, and causing my city to become subject to EPA regulations. I resent you trying to avoid cleaning up your own mess. By the way, who's driving this demand for power? Is it big business or folks like me, because I know I try to conserve my power use by turning off lights and even switching to CFLs? I don't want to pay (in terms of taxes or pollution) for power generated to serve some big out-of-state business, especially one that doesn't generate many local jobs."
Right. Because big business is evil and always wastes power and individuals are always good and save power. And businesses don't hire anyone locally, not even to run their new power plants. And local people wouldn't want new "out-of-state" businesses in their town even if they did. And air pollution in some other state is better than air pollution here.

Thanks for clearing that up for me. Without all those perfectly valid lines of thought I might have suspected your were just trolling.

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725711)

Without all those perfectly valid lines of thought I might have suspected your were just trolling.

Pot, meet kettle...

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

vonhammer (992352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725723)

Now, now - play nice. His point (I'm sure) was that this information is being deliberatly hidden from view. Some businesses absolutely contribute to the local economy and some don't. Without knowing the truth about how much power they consume, you and I cannot make a value judgment on whether or not it is worth letting them build the infrastructure they want to support the business.

I for one would want to know the bottom line.

Re:And? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725371)

thanks for the insight, i will remember Google's data center in Pryor (northern part of the state) if power consumption becomes an issue...

Very useful, (1)

tedshultz (596089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725257)

Here is Madison, WI I know that you can call up the local power company and ask for typical bills for any address. This is great because when you are thinking about renting or buying a home, it is very nice to know what a typical heating and cooling bill is. You can even specify apartments by the unit number.

Re:And? (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726253)

I'm just waiting for Google to start building power plants. Though I'm not sure how they'd send advertisements via electricity...

Do No Evil (1)

malkir (1031750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724807)

I belive I belive Don't fail me, Google!

Re:Do No Evil (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725535)

Suck a big fat one, consumer whore

Re:Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725763)

do you believe in spell check?

Total usage of power (1)

davidmillions.com (1086903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724809)

Do total usage of power really matter that much? Isn't it more efficient if Google needs 100 servers that uses 100W of power than me needing 10W of power to run 1 server?

Re:Total usage of power (1)

labradore (26729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725901)

No. Go check your math.

Re:Total usage of power (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726225)

Do total usage of power really matter that much?

Google's shareholders might care - if their CTO is buying racks and racks of expensive power-guzzling boxes simply because he likes the the flashing activity lights and the noise the cooling fans make when they can get a single server to do the same job, then all that extra power consumption on hardware air-conditioning is lost shareholder dividends.

Re:Total usage of power (1)

dorianh49 (988940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726269)

1.21 jigawatts should be enough for anyone.

Perfect for pot growers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18724825)

All one need do is incorporate and claim to start a large server farm. Then grow grow grow your way to PROFIT!!!

Trade Secret? (2, Interesting)

brennanw (5761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724847)

How exactly is power consumption a "trade secret?" That makes no sense...

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724917)

I am trying to puzzle this out as well.
 
I suppose that you could reverse engineer a ballpark figure of how many servers are active based on the power usage or maybe figure out that they are running some kind of high power consumption experiments, but what good does that do anybody?

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725171)

Indeed. Does Google give public tours of its datacenters? I mean, if some joe taking a tour can count up how many Dell servers have their lights blinking, then the whole idea of "trade secret" goes out the window.

Re:Trade Secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18724937)

Maybe it gives a whiff of a clue to competitors as to how many computers they use? If so, bfd.

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725287)

Data centres use power to cool and power the computers in their facilities. Methods vary from centre to centre and one might have a much more efficient way of doing things.

By not disclosing their power usage, they can protect themselves from people (spies) who may want to discover their methods. Although they may want people to know "Hey! we use 1/3 the power of everyone else and have twice the computational power and storage capacity!" they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

Re:Trade Secret? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725439)

In order for that information to be of use, you have to know a lot of internal information anyways.

Trade secret is not a logical reason, the only logical reason for this is so they can play power shell games. No other reasons at all. And since they exists soley because the government says so, we are entitled to all that information.

The governer just did a big diservice to the people who voted for him.

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725345)

It isn't. And that's the real problem. We have a situation where a high profile (as opposed to Big) company is looking to settle in. That can create quite a stir in a small to medium sized town. But now we have local laws getting passed which look to exclusively affect the newly arrived company. That's the real problem. ie It looks like Google has landed and the local Government is trying to make life as easy as possible for the newly landed cash cow. Now obvioulsy I have no knowledge that this is the case but that's how it looks (this is the Smart Troll defense - say what you want about anybody but don't leave yourself open for a lawsuit...) though of course this would be unlikely because it makes Google look like a 2 bit crook if it was true.

Re:Trade Secret? (2, Informative)

hrieke (126185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725529)

Well,

Back in the days, when the Japanese where trying to break into the American automotive market, they used to send groups over to measure the rust on the rail tracks.
Why?
Because it would then be simple to know how often the trains where running, how much wear on the tracks (thus how big and heavy the trains are), and a whole host of other tidbits which would be useful in competition.

So now, you know that Google's newest complex needs X amount of power, and using some IP tools, you can see what traffic is going on in and out of the data center- thus a measurement can be made of the power usage per user, and from that you can determine if the data center is being efficient, and how well it scales.

I'm sure smarter people than me can go on even more...

Re:Trade Secret? (3, Funny)

bigwave111 (1046082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725587)

Yeah, but given the amount of resources Google provides for its employees, it's safe to say that 50% of all power will go to catered meals, jacuzzis, and vibrating beds for nap breaks on those difficult 6 and a half hour work days.

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725767)

>Yeah, but given the amount of resources Google provides for its employees, it's safe to say that 50% of all power will go to catered meals,
>jacuzzis, and vibrating beds for nap breaks on those difficult 6 and a half hour work days.

I think all those things are illegal in Oklahoma.

Please put me out of my misery if I ever become desperate enough, or greedy enough, to live in a place like Oklahoma.

It even makes working for Google seem a little less of a good thing, because there is always the chance you might get relocated to Oklahoma.

I wonder if people are aware that Oklahoma still practices strict alcohol prohibition?

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726307)

"I wonder if people are aware that Oklahoma still practices strict alcohol prohibition?"

Huh?? *takes another shot of chilled vodka* WTF?...You smokin' plumber's crack or something?

We may have some strange zoning laws, and stupid laws restricting alcohal sales after certain times on Sunday (local laws and ordinances-YMMV depending on town/county), but I've never been to anyplace in Oklahoma that prohibited alcohal.

And yes, I live in OK...Stillwater, and we have 5 liqour stores that I'm aware of, and all the convience and grocery stores sell beer (anything over 3.2% alcohal have to get from the liqour store).

Re:Trade Secret? (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725885)

Back in the days, when the Japanese where trying to break into the American automotive market, they used to send groups over to measure the rust on the rail tracks.
Why?
Because it would then be simple to know how often the trains where running, how much wear on the tracks (thus how big and heavy the trains are), and a whole host of other tidbits which would be useful in competition.

I must be missing something here. How does knowing when and where trains traveled somehow give insights into the American automotive market? I suppose doing it near a factory would maybe help you discover how much weight the trains were carrying and work out how many cars were sold but there are many easier ways of obtaining that info.

Don't Tread on Oklahoma (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18724863)

Anon here! I live in Oklahoma, and we will do anything we can to get businesses to migrate here. I don't really see this as an issue with Oklahoma itself, but the fact that we have a crumbling economy with more jails than schools. Can you really blame us?

Of course, no one ever talks about the good things coming out of Oklahoma law making bodies...

http://www.normantranscript.com/localnews/local_st ory_098012317/ [normantranscript.com]

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725441)

wow, a whopping 3%, i think the alternator in my pickup can do that, i will just hook it up to a bicycle...

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725539)

That's what you get with the capital being in Oklahoma City.

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (1)

loucura! (247834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725681)

I don't really see this as an issue with Oklahoma itself, but the fact that we have a crumbling economy with more jails than schools.

When I am elected President, I will personally ensure that Oklahoma has fewer prisons than schools... by turning the state into a Federal Penitentiary.

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725705)

"Can you really blame us?"

Yes.
When the power company starts saying they need to build more plants or rolling blank out will start. and you can not find out how much companies are getting discounted you will only have youself to blame.

Also, when companies staart paying directly to the shareholders, and you energy bill goes up, and your taxes go up, you will only have yourself to blame.

This will not help OK for any reasonable amount of time.

Maybe people should figure out why so many are in jail. Maybe someone should allow non violent offenders out on parol so they can get a job and start paying taxes instead of just sucking them away?

Maybe someone should get all the eduqactional finance records opened up so people can see where the money is going?

No, don't do that, just use it as an excuse to be lazy and become someones bitch.

You are crazy (2, Interesting)

tacokill (531275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726237)

You, sir, get the crazy post award of the day. At least on your power comments.....and the rest is a little suspect too.

First of all, we (we being Oklahoma) have PLENTY of power. To my knowledge we've NEVER had rolling blackouts or anything close to that. Do you even know where OK is? Do you know how many power plants are within 200 miles of Pryor? I do. They are my customers and there are a ton of them. Additionally, we aren't like California. Contrary to what you state, we are well prepared to provide power for the foreseeable future. You see, we have been scaling up over the last 20 years to keep up with demand. Unlike other places, we don't mind building new plants. The idea that 15MW, or hell even 1500MW, would make a dent is laughable. There is plenty of power here. (sidenote: our track record for clean air really isn't all that bad either)

Second, there are many types of power companies. Private (AEP, Duke, Reliant) and Public (Co-op, Municipals, etc) companies of all kinds provide power to "the system". You cries of monopolies ring hollow because the "monopoly" part you talk about is highly highly regulated. The rest (generation) isn't. And you may not realize this but -- we have plenty of land that is suitable for power plants. So does Texas and look how many plants they have (108 just from Dallas Northeast to Texarkana -- about 1/6 of the state).


Look, I know Okla has its share of real problems. All I am saying is that power ain't one of them (had to throw in an "aint")

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725923)

Yes, we really can blame you. Stop locking up kids who smoke dope to deal with the boredom that is Oklahoma and the dealers that sell to them, and that prison population will fall to a much more manageable number. Then find out where all the oil and gas tax money is going and demand that it be used for schools instead pointless crap like building turnpikes to the middle of nowhere and buying the Atoka county swat team new .50 calibre sniper rifles.

Having a state government that's as corrupt as a New Orleans levee board AND as mind-bogglingly dumb as the Kansas board of education doesn't help matters either.

Signed: Anonymous former Oklahoma resident

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (1)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726039)

OK, so I was born and raised in Oklahoma. There, I admit it. Years of speech therapy and a computer science degree (earned in California) help mask my terrible secret.

A data center in Pryor? Pretty funny. How many Google employees can sing "Okie From Muskogee"?

The Oklahoma chamber of commerce routinely runs adverts in the Wall Street Journal begging companies to come exploit the state. Hiding power usage is small potatoes to all the usual toxic run off associated w/chemical and petro production.

Re:Don't Tread on Oklahoma (1)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726063)

I live fairly close to Pryor and this is news to me. I'm sure the state wanted to keep this quite as long as they could and I am not at all surprised that Google could work out a deal with the good ol' boy network ($$$). The Public Service Company of Oklahoma has a long and glorious history of screwing folks here. [google.com]

I wonder if Google has bought much dark fiber here, if any.

Also, a poster below asked about nuclear power plants in Oklahoma. As far as I know there aren't any but there have been plenty of nuclear shenanigans (see the above link). All power plants here are coal or gas fired.

Cheap not so green electricity ? (4, Interesting)

ZoOnI (947423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724967)

If googles energy useage is hidden, the state can give them cheaper electricity than everyone else and the taxpayers pick up another corporate bill.

With the greener thinking of the world, Oklahoma's power may be from nuclear/coal plants, making Google a not so green business.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (2, Insightful)

xlv (125699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725221)

With the greener thinking of the world, Oklahoma's power may be from nuclear/coal plants, making Google a not so green business.

Please do not group coal and nuclear together. Nuclear is currently the "greenest" electricity production option for a large scale output whereas coal releases heaps of nasty stuff in the air, specially as electric co. are slow to use filters to clean the exhaust of their coal burning plants.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725305)

Nuclear is currently the "greenest" electricity production option for a large scale output whereas coal releases heaps of nasty stuff in the air, specially as electric co. are slow to use filters to clean the exhaust of their coal burning plants.

I think the people of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island might disagree with you, as well as all the people suffering from Depleted Uranium and Plutonium poisonings.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (5, Informative)

xlv (125699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725471)

I think the people of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island might disagree with you, as well as all the people suffering from Depleted Uranium and Plutonium poisonings.


There are now more than 100 cvilian nuclear plants operating in the US, 109 I think from a recent PBS segment. There was only one accident in the US in civilian nuclear plants, nobody was injured, no radiation released.

The Chernobyl accident was due to poor maintenance and not following the established rules, i.e. human error and/or incomptence.

In France there are about 60 generating 80% of their electricty and exporting to the neighboring countries. France has the lowest air pollution of all industrialized countries.

Depleted uranium is due to military use and has nothing to do with civilian nuclear use.

I just can't understand why people who claim to understand science or at least the scientific process cannot go past the "nuclear bad" mantra... and by the way, I consider myself to be an environmentalist...
 

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725903)

Until you solve groundwater pollution (Hanford), plutonium release during weapons storage lifetime, spent radioactive shell pollution, depleted uranium dust (a major health risk in the Middle East), and potential pollution over the many many thousands of years of lifespan of the nuclear waste, than you can't say they don't have pollution.

I didn't say they were less polluting, I said they were not non-polluting, and that any arguments being made for low pollution are based on current year pollution estimates at best and do not include future pollution effects from what we've already mined, processed, used, and (supposedly permanently, but not so unless buried in the earth's mantle or flown into the sun) disposed of.

Let's get real. Stop trying to make best case scenarios when such don't actually exist in the real world. Even fusion reactors have radioactive waste byproducts from the processing, shielding, and other such components (admittedly incredibly little).

Just in case you think I'm nuts, I've owned and do own shares in utilities and companies involved in coal, oil, nuclear, wind, and other energy source production and distribution. I even WORKED in mining.

Just be honest.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726173)

Until you solve groundwater pollution (Hanford), plutonium release during weapons storage lifetime, spent radioactive shell pollution, depleted uranium dust (a major health risk in the Middle East), and potential pollution over the many many thousands of years of lifespan of the nuclear waste, than you can't say they don't have pollution.

Weapons storage and depleted uranium dust have nothing to do with power generation, and will be problems for any nuclear power whether they have commercial nuclear reactors or not.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (1)

xlv (125699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726361)

Again, depleted uranium should not be part of the current discussion as we're discussing civilian nuclear technology for electricity production. One can support that use while still being strongly against the use of depleted uranium by the military or any nuclear based weapon for that matter.

I too didn't say nuclear wasn't polluting, just that it was the greenest tech available right now for large scale electricity generation. And we do have to get real: pollution is a real problem, oil is running out. There is an alternative to oil/coal use for electricity generation and until something better comes along, it should be pushed as the better option for the near future.

The problem with the nuclear waste in the US is that there's a ban on reprocessing. Again, I'll point you to France where there is no such ban and waste is recycled and thus only a smaller amount of waste needs to be taken care of for the longer term. I know that this also produces weapon grade plutonium so don't bother pointing that out...

For your other reply in this thread referencing "Flight 94" (I think you meant Flight 93), a lot of western countries have been dealing with terrorism in the last decades and you cannot use that as an excuse for everything. Besides, newer pebble bed designs are supposed to be safer and another Flight 93 is probably NOT going to happen again as passengers will rush the cockpit faster in such situation.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (5, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725633)

Chernobyl can not happen with US designs. It is not possible. NOT POSSIBLE.

A)There pile was way too big, and the rods weren't gravity assisted. The structure design was shody.
B)The people running it were former Hydro managers and had no nuclear training.
C)They shut down all the safety and then intentional forced a shut down.
But remember , even if B and C happened in the US, there still would not be an 'Chernobyl event because of its design.

How much radiation escaped from 3 mile island?
why, here is a quote:
. "The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year."

How many people might get cancer from three mile island? 1. But as of yet thee possible '1' hasn't happened.

Military use of depleted uranium has nothing to do with this.

Now that we got that out of the way, you might want to check up an how many nuclear plants there are operating without a hitch.
Add to that the new plans that are out there and some of the cool self contained stuff.

If we want to clean the air, we must start building new nuclear plant and shutting down coal. I believe more cancer causing stuff was put in the air over the last 5 years then has every been released form nuclear power plants.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (planes) (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725933)

I'm sure the pilots of Flight 94 thought so too. Know how close that was?

Waiting while you get out maps. ... (elevator music) ...

Now, how fast does a plane like that fly ... ... (elevator music) ...

Now, what happens when it crashes directly into the plant aimed precisely for where it needs to go ... ... (elevator music) ...

See?

(chuckling on my end)

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (1)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725921)

There were no injuries whatsoever from the Three Mile Island incident. The highest dose of radiation anyone received was less than the average amount of background radiation any given US resident will receive in a year. The number of projected "excess fatal cancers" due to Three Mile Island is "approximately one." Much, much safer than your average radiation-spewing coal plant.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725501)

Why can't they make a Gigantic Dysan Vaccuum with the vortex tunnels thing and clean the Coal plants' exhaust? You wouldn't even need to change the filter since there is no filter... :)

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725553)

With the greener thinking of the world, Oklahoma's power may be from nuclear/coal plants, making Google a not so green business.

Huh? Whereas coal plants are hard to consider as green, nuclear plants are probably the most environmentally sounds power plants there are. Very low emission of NOx, SOx and CO2, meaning there won't be increased acid rain or global warming, wrt. nuclear power plants.

Re:Cheap not so green electricity ? (1)

itsthebin (725864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725887)

though if you are buying in bulk and can book your usage ahead of time you are normally entitled to some sort of discount. but if there was gas available maybe google should be told to acquire a couple of 15 Meg Gas Turbines and sell any excess back to the state grid.

15MW =~ 40000 Plasma TVs (2, Interesting)

shankarunni (1002529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18724987)

So, who are we to go about chucking stones at the new Evil^H^H^H^HGood Empire when we rush out to buy Plasma TVs just in time for the Super Bowl / March Madness / ...? I'll betcha that around the Super Bowl, we added a few 100 MW of draw to our already overloaded power distribution system.

My first and last Star Trek joke on Slashdot (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725157)

40000 plasma TVs? Maybe they're building a holo-deck?

Re:My first and last Star Trek joke on Slashdot (1)

yoyoq (1056216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726001)

you should have quit at zero. (sorry, just bored at work)

Cum on google make your own. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725059)

google's got money, why dont they run thier own solar/wind/nucular power plant onsite?

Re:Cum on google make your own. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725099)

Most likely they'll get power from GRDA, which is hydroelectric. So their "green" status should be okay.

Not all hidden (4, Insightful)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725143)

Oklahoma's governor has signed a bill into law that will effectively exempt the largest customers of municipal power companies from public disclosure of how much power they are using.

This bill hides only their electric power usage.

Their power to manipulate the legislature is out in the open.

Re:Not all hidden (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725299)

Sadly they are only using well established standard evil corporate tactics.

15 Megawatts? (2, Funny)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725145)

That's nothing, I've seen a car that requires 1.21 Jiggawatts

Re:15 Megawatts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725315)

That's gigawatts, fool.

Re:15 Megawatts? (1)

wesley78 (1086999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725407)

I bet with that kind of energy, if you were to run it through a flux capacitor and approached a speed of about 87 mph, then time travel could be possible.

Important safety tip (4, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725181)

Locate your pot growing operation in Googles utility tunnels. No wonder all their employees are so loyal. :)

Hmm... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725211)

I have no idea how much power that my family uses, or what the neighborhood average is, or how much is the city high, low, median for businesses. Now that I think about it, it would be awesome for anyone to find that information out. I'm into energy efficiency. I don't like the green/GW agenda, but I do think that knowing how much resources that you and your neighbors are using and attempting to use less is a good thing.

I can think evil thoughts when I want to. How would I be evil? I'd try to get a city/county/state law put into place that basically says that if your new residence/industry/government building uses more than the median usage than you get to pay for the extra power generation. ;) Make the data centers/industry build/run their own power plants.

Re:Hmm... (1)

jjacobs2 (969071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725409)

The current system forces everyone to pay for what they use. I'm not sure how it works outside of Illinois but here electric isn't subsidized for business and I doubt the electric company shareholders would accept lower income so that a few higher ups could pocket some bribes like some earlier posts mentioned. A system similar to income taxes with a higher rate for big consumers might encourage less usage but it would hurt the businesses a lot too. I think letting the market find a good price will work the best in the long run. If companies use a lot then the rates will probably go up (although for everyone not just the big users).

Every time they lie, the economic system fails (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725253)

False data leads to bad planning and bad economic decisions.

This, above all, is one reason that systems like Red Communism in place in Russia, China, and the White House in DC create slower growing economies, as they are not just inefficient, but usually run by incompetents promoted beyond their abilities.

When? (3, Interesting)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725303)

When is Google going to start getting into the power business? Seems like it's a very key part of their operation. Maybe they should start devoting some R&D twards coming up with solutions to their power consuption problem. Could save the company millions and result in technology that makes them the end all ruler of everything.

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725387)

They already do. A friend of mine is an energy strategist for them. I still think they are evil though :)

Re:When? (1)

Spleen (9387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725759)

It's no more essential then wire, fiber, RAM, or Harddrives. They let someone else take care of producing these things for them. I'm sure there are some smart people in a think tank there at Google that could help with energy problems, but it's not what they do. Google has to be careful not to spread themselves too thin.

Re:When? (1)

Luckster7 (234417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726275)

When is Google going to start getting into the power business?

The phrase "Google founders invest in Nanosolar." on the home page of Nanosolar may be of interest to you.

how many? (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725321)

how many data centre operators does it take to change a bill?

There is a simple solution to all this: Unplug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725373)

There is a simple solution to all this: Unplug.

No, really.

I am reducing my consumption until I can afford to implement alternate energy. My average electric bill is down to $55. No natural gas and that includes Heat and Air conditioning. Eliminating the dryer and going to on demand hot water next which should bring the bill below $35.

Next month I address the Homeowner's association about amending the rules so I can install non-obtrusive solar panels.

If you aren't a customer you don't have to subsidize "The Google" and if you are, you have no right to complain about dirty power plants in your neighborhood. "Not in my backyard" is not a good argument.

Naive?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725449)

An average datacenter consumes ~15 Megawatts of power... are we really that naive to think that google only uses 15 Megawatts of power?! It's 800 acres! That's bound to be >200 Megawatts just for this piece of property. I don't even want to guess as to the total power consumption of google boxes all over the world :(

Data Center? Feh. It's for Google Fusion (beta) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18725493)

I mean, it's obvious. Those lasers need lots of power to get going.

26,800 hp (2, Interesting)

reedjjjr (1073868) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725559)

15 Megawatts is 26,800 horsepower, or about one jumbo jet. It's probably mostly for air conditioning the servers and personnel in the hot Oklahoma summer. Are you going to turn off every large business that has air conditioned facilities? Ground all the airlines? Just throw the switch on the internet, or at least ban all the porn. That ought to free up some power.

I hear... (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725639)

I hear Al Gore is looking for this law in Tennessee as well.

The Truth (1)

alphamugwump (918799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725777)

What, you think Google is using all that power for their "data center"? No, this is really part of a conspiracy. They've developed strong AI, and now they're trying to build a bopple generator.

Solar and Geothermal cooling (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18725827)

It would be good if Google can use some innovative ways to dissipate the heat and lower the costs in doing so.In particular, they could use geothermal to help cool the CPUs. This would be MUCH more useful than spending money on solar cells.

Data centers vs Alternatives (2, Interesting)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726009)

I may be wrong, and I can't cite any studies, but I've long suspected that despite seemingly high amounts of energy used by data centers, they save a lot of energy (as well as other resources) in the long run.

For example, I used to take the paper. This had to be printed, delivered, and recycled / disposed of. Now I have several news feeds on my home page that keep me up to date. Not only do I get more information, I'm pretty sure less money goes in to delivering news feeds than printing a paper.

Another example is shopping online. I do much of my christmas / birthday shopping online. Rather than driving all over town to shops that are each individually heated / cooled, I order gifts online and have them delivered. This may or may not save energy with regard to me driving to the store vs having something delivered to my house, but large warehouses delivering to customers are bound to be more efficient than large warehouses delivering to stores, and customers coming to stores to do their shopping.

The same goes for general research, entertainment, telecommuting, etc. - I keep hearing about the energy costs associated with web based facilities, but I can't help but feel they reduce energy consumption in the end. Admittedly, they may be able to improve on their energy usage, so I'm not sure I like this new legislation (and in the state of my current residence, no less), but I would like to see some data on the energy savings that stem from data centers.

Bottom Line (1)

labradore (26729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726081)

When it comes to government and other monopolies, less transparency is almost always bad. There has to be an extraordinary reason to reduce transparency. The potential reasons given so far are all mundane. None are critical. Many of us would like to have more privacy and freedom for a lot of non-critical reasons and some crucial reasons. However, government and big businesses trample over our wishes and our rights all the time without ever noticing. There is no reason why the biggest consumers should have any more legal privileges than the smallest ones.

I'm getting really tired of the might-makes-right order of things. I hope there's plenty of others out there who feel the same.

How far will they go before there's a major backlash? This power consumption disclosure law isn't anywhere near the worst offense, but it sure speaks volumes about what dishonorable, corrupt and stupid cretins we have running the show these days.

Evil (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726141)

So it went like this.. "We will build a datacenter in Oklahoma and provide many jobs to your state if you make a law hiding out power consumption."

Who's at fault?
Well.. Google a little bit for asking but much more blame goes to the state for doing. If it wernt for the state Google would be have to _follow_ the laws and not buy them.

Sounds a Lot Like BushCo Hiding Their Methods (2, Interesting)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18726247)

Secrecy is a bad thing. Secrecy is how the unscroupulous commit crimes, fraud, manipulate the system to advantage, etc.

Who give a flying flip how many computers Google uses? The secret is in how they are run. A law that hides power use is a setup for the Oklahoma government to attract a big business to the state while having ratepayers subsidize Google. It's essentially a tax.

I guarantee the other half of this story is how big of a discount Google will get for electricity.
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