(Bloomberg) — Selling custom nose rings, crocheted bunnies and hand-carved Santas is energy-intensive stuff.
Just ask Etsy Inc., the go-to marketplace for crafts that doubled its electricity use in two years to feed power-sucking data centers that keep the $2.8 billion-a-year business running. It's one of the many technology giants including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google demanding cheaper — and cleaner — electricity as their data demands grow.
This hunger for power has set Silicon Valley on a collision course with the Trump administration, which is working up a plan to keep coal plants afloat by raising electricity prices. As a rare source of demand growth, these tech firms have become formidable advocates for clean energy. They've contracted enough renewable energy to displace at least 12 coal generators, and some are paying millions to sever ties with utilities to find their own supply.
Big Tech is no longer "afraid to throw around their weight or their ability to influence — some might say bully — their local utility or local governments in what they want to get," said Lucas Beran, a senior research analyst on IHS Markit's data center and cloud team.
It's easy to see why the companies have become such advocates. Power used by all the nation's data centers is set to climb 4 percent from 2014 to 2020, according to an Energy Department report. Server farms now draw enough electricity to light up Las Vegas and
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