Many electric utilities have cash available for rebates for data center customers who upgrade to more efficient equipment. Eligible projects range from power and cooling equipment upgrades to aisle containment to upgrades to IT equipment, such as more energy efficient servers and SAN. Even server virtualization qualifies.
In order to qualify, the utility needs to see a quantifiable, lasting reduction in energy usage for the same or greater IT functionality. The utility does not typically look for a net overall facility reduction in power usage, they are looking for specific equipment change out or program implementation (i.e.: virtualization) with a known energy efficiency improvement. In a simple example, an old air conditioner is replaced (removed from the facility and maybe even intentionally rendered useless) and replaced with a new, more efficient air conditioner. The same logic applies to electrical equipment such as transformers and UPS equipment.
However opportunities for increased energy efficiencies are often much greater with cooling and airflow-related equipment. The key for qualification is to get a utility energy audit performed before upgrades are implemented. Qualification is difficult to achieve retroactively. An upgrade of an existing facility is much easier to qualify for a utility rebate than a new facility or TI (tenant improvement, such as converting a warehouse or office space to a data center). The utility is motivated to replace old, inefficient equipment. This reduces the need to construct more power generating facilities and reduces the need to operate older, more polluting peaker power plants. The utility assumes that new, relatively efficient equipment will be installed in a new facility or TI without the need for rebate incentives. Replacing old cooling equipment? Investing in VMware? Contact your electric utility account rep first and get with the program. You could receive a large check when your project is complete.