When it comes to energy, Texas is both green guru and oil refiner king. The Lone Star State commands a distinctly diversified energy portfolio - earning the No. 1 spot as top wind power generator since 2006 - and is directing a massive, electricity-saving statewide data center project while still consuming more energy than any other state.
But with once-affordable natural gas prices ballooning and warnings of climate change growing more urgent, Texas' public and private sectors are wielding new ideas. Forward-thinking tech companies are forging government partnerships. And as new information on data center energy consumption becomes available, IT managers have the incentive and wherewithal to yield big energy savings.
While energy savings and environmental stewardship jump-start many green initiatives, Texas has an added reason to embrace the green craze - the state's energy costs have increased considerably in the last five years.
In the past, the Texas power grid - which powers more than three-fourths of the state - has let Texas retain some energy independence from federal regulators and offer natural gas at cheap rates. But market conditions since 2000 forced some power plants to close, decreasing the state's once-abundant energy supply and increasing prices.
"Where managing energy costs was not as high on the radar screen five years ago for many of these public entities, it's a very significant piece of their operating costs now," said Dub Taylor, director of the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO). "So now they're trying to figure out, â??What can we do about this?'"
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