Greenpeace Ranks Switch Highest Worldwide for Sustainability among Internet Companies

Las Vegas-based Switch has become the first multi-tenant data center provider in the world to receive a perfect score in the six-year history of Greenpeace’s Clicking Clean report, the global environmental advocacy organization announced on January 9.

The grades published in the 2017 report reflect Switch’s use of 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy for all of its data centers and operations, its renewable energy advocacy, its green house gas emission transparency, and its energy-efficient data center design.

Switch achieved the top ranking while adhering to the renewable energy principles of additionality and locality by contracting for Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2 to support its Nevada load, and working with Consumers Energy in Michigan to develop a new renewable energy project.

“Switch, new to the Clicking Clean report this year, scored among the highest for any class of company and is the definitive leader among colocation operators for its efforts to transition its data center fleet to renewables as fast as possible through a combination of renewable energy procurement and aggressive advocacy,” the Greenpeace report concludes.

Renewable energy use by data center providers is increasingly critical as the amount of power used by data centers continues to grow dramatically. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that in 2015, data centers consumed more than 2 percent of all energy in the United States.

Since 2011, the Clicking Clean report has evaluated the energy demand of the internet and the energy choices made by individual companies. The report’s results have been used to recognize companies that have helped revolutionize the internet through transformative sustainability commitments and illuminate those that have not. A key measurement of success is a company’s advocacy efforts to bring more renewable energy to the grid by working with electric utilities and by passing public policies.

Other study stalwarts appeared again – lauded for their ongoing support of renewables. They included Apple, Google, and Facebook, among others.

The report also evaluated emerging East Asian Internet companies for the first time, finding that the region is well behind the U.S. market in renewable commitments  – due, in part, to fewer clean energy options from monopoly utilities.

East Asian Internet giants, including Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba, have not committed to 100 percent renewable energy and lack basic transparency around their energy performance. Increased advocacy efforts for key renewable policy changes are needed from East Asian internet companies as they look to expand globally.

And in related news, on December 22, Nevada state utility regulators, with no dissent, approved an order allowing Switch to leave as a retail customer of NV Energy and buy power from other providers, according to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Sam Castor, associated general counsel for Switch, said the company’s exit is in keeping with its principles of using sustainable resources, the local news outlet reported.

“Switch is very focused on doing the right thing and adhering to our principles and karma,” he said before the vote.

The company agreed to pay a $27 million exit fee to NV Energy an assessment designed to protect remaining utility customers for investments already made in electricity infrastructure to meet demand.

PUC Chairman Joseph Reynolds said that there was no opposition filed against the application and staff indicated its approval.

“PUC staff have vetted this matter and fell comfortable representing it is in the public interest,” Reynolds said.

Switch joins several large gaming companies that were approved to leave as retail customers of the utility.

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