CIOs should prepare for ‘tough questions’ over power usage within IT

Businesses will be required to hand over data on their energy usage to the EU from December next year as part of a new energy efficiency scheme run by UK government.


Businesses will be required to hand over data on their energy usage to the EU from December next year as part of a new energy efficiency scheme run by UK government.

All firms with over 250 employees or a turnover of E50 million (£39 million) will have to report energy usage every four years with a view to implementing policies that will bring power use down. This will affect about 9,000 UK firms.

The scheme is the UK’s means to satisfy EU energy regulations.

IT leads or CIOs at large firms are likely to be reporting the numbers to the board, and on top of an increased workload, an IT department with an inefficient energy system may be facing some awkward questions. 

“I think there will be some tough questions that will be asked by board and that the CIO is going to need some answers for. The earlier they get ahead of this by understanding the problem and doing something about it, the better” power management technology company Verismic’s CEO, Ashley Leonard says.

If you work in an IT-heavy organisation, Leonard adds, “who is doing well and who isn’t doing well is going to become very, very visible.”

Some firms may be using tools like Microsoft SCCM, but this is not detailed enough to comply with the new regulation. It is not as simple as handing over energy bill statements. Firms will have to track and verify the sources of 90 percent of their energy consumption every four years, beginning in December 2015.

What will you need to do

If you know IT is one of the biggest drains on your company’s power you may have to prepare for 5 December, when the audit has to be filed. Failure to do so will mean a £50,000 fine plus a £500-per-day fine for non-compliance.

“The more that organisations do to automate the collecting of this data so they can comply, the less burden it is going to have”, Leonard says.

Leonard says that to accurately report on power usage you will need to identify makes and models of devices, research their power profiles of those machines running at full power, sleep, suspend and off mode.

“And then you would have to figure out when the computers are in those particular modes and do the math on it…It is going to impact a lot.”

To comply, companies will have to appoint an internal auditor who will have to get sign off from the director, or outsource the process entirely.

Tax breaks

Leonard says that his experience in the power management industry has shown him that the UK is not as forthcoming as its counterparts when it comes to energy efficiency in the IT stakes.

The US is more engaged, but this, he says, may be due to significant tax breaks the government introduced to entice corporations into going ‘green’.

A UK tax break announced last year will be an added incentive to bring energy usage down. Chancellor George Osborne announced a 100 percent tax cut in the first year a company invests in energy saving technology, with ongoing benefits over time. The tax relief, called ECA, applies to software that reduces consumption as well as industrial tools for factory floors.

“In the US it is estimated 2.8 billion dollars is wasted in PC energy every year. Now the opportunity is there for organisations to understand, and then do something about their power consumption", Leonard said.

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