#Rackspace collaborates with #CPSEnergy to save money, energy and emissions

By Tracy Idell Hamilton

cps energy logoWhen your company’s motto is Fanatical Support, an unscheduled power outage is not acceptable.

That’s why Melissa Gray, Rackspace’s director of sustainability and strategic partnerships and Brian Carney, director of global real estate, came to CPS Energy last year.

They also wanted to make sure that back-up power was as clean and efficient as possible, given Rackspace’s efforts to position itself as a global leader in sustainable business practices.

Around the same time, Rackspace Chairman and co-founder Graham Weston and CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby, during a casual meeting, decided the two companies could learn things from each other and benefit the community.

A collaboration was born.

So far, that collaboration has increased Rackspace’s energy reliability, saved power (and money) and sponsored electric vehicle infrastructure for the community. In return, Rackspace is sharing its culture with a group of CPS Energy’s emerging leaders.

“CPS Energy has helped us increase our infrastructure reliability, understand our rate structure and partnered with us to create better long-term planning models,” said Gray.

“It’s been great for the CPS Energy employees on the team to learn how Rackspace promotes their culture,” said CPS Energy analyst Jonathan Tijerina, part of the cross-company team. “They have 3,500 employees there, and that means they have 3,500 ambassadors for the brand.”

As part of CPS Energy’s automated demand response pilot program, Rackspace agrees to reduce power use during the handful of hottest summer afternoons, when the state’s electrical grid is most stressed.

As political, business and civic leaders gather today at Rackspace headquarters for a frank and necessary discussion about air quality in the San Antonio region under the umbrella of the San Antonio Clean Technology Forum, both Rackspace and CPS Energy hope their partnership can serve as a model for action.

Stakes are high.

Edging out of compliance

Recent violations of the federal air quality standard for ozone call for action so that San Antonio avoids having the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designate the region in non-attainment. Ozone is also a health hazard.

Peter Bella, natural resources director with the Alamo Area Council of Governments, and one of the forum’s speakers, says there’s still time for San Antonio to head off more onerous federal demands.

“So we’re pushing for change now,” he said, “which means we have to raise awareness, much as has been done with water issues.”

The Clean Tech Forum is hosting the gathering, which features Bella, Judge Nelson Wolff, and CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby, with Robert Rivard moderating. Since 2008, the Clean Tech Forum has brought together local leaders on more than two dozen topics, from nuclear power and the impact of the Eagle Ford shale to water, energy efficiency and the coming smart grid.

Gray said it made sense to hold the luncheon at “the Castle,” as Rackspace’s headquarters is affectionately known to the thousands of Rackers who work there.

“We prefer to be proactive” she said. “By engaging the right business and civic leaders, we can find ways to solve these challenges.”

Read the rest of the story at CPS Energy blog