AWS customers want more information on its renewable energy plans

Amazon Web Services customers have sent a letter to the cloud services provider requesting that it disclose more information about its sustainability practices.

The 19 companies, including Tumblr, and the Huffington Post, said they want to convey the information to their users, customers, employees and other stakeholders.

While lauding Amazon’s commitment to get its entire cloud operation running on renewable energy, the companies wrote to AWS chief Andy Jassy last week that they want to see Amazon disclose more about its current carbon and energy footprint, its progress towards renewable energy goals, and its strategy for increasing its use of renewable energy. The letter also requests that Amazon share how it defines renewable energy and what energy sources the company will prefer going forward.

The letter, which was first made public in an article by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, follows a Greenpeace report last month blasting Amazon for not disclosing more information about its sustainability practices. The information requested by the companies aligns with data Greenpeace has tried to get Amazon to reveal in the past—something the company has staunchly refused to do.

So far, the company has revealed that 25 percent of the power consumed by its global infrastructure as of April 2015 comes from renewable sources. Three of its compute regions—US West in Oregon, EU in Frankfurt and AWS GovCloud—are all running on “100 percent carbon-neutral infrastructure,” and Amazon recently inked a deal to support the creation of a 150 megawatt wind farm in Indiana that will provide power to AWS datacenters in the state.

Amazon has maintained that Greenpeace’s reports are inaccurate and don’t focus enough on the benefits of cloud computing. Last month, a statement from the company issued in response to the report touted the environmental benefits of cloud computing, most notably the increased use of server resources compared to a traditional on-premise server farm. AWS Vice President James Hamilton said in a post to his personal blog that the Greenpeace report ignores where the majority of IT power spend is coming from and puts too much of an emphasis on less than 5 percent of the overall spend.

The Seattle-based tech giant is unique among other large cloud companies when it comes to refusing to disclose its sustainability investments: none of the others received a F grade for transparency in Greenpeace’s most recent report.

Apple is leading the cloud market in sustainability, combining the announcement of all its new data centers with new renewable energy plants that will provide clean energy for them to use. In February, the company also announced a US$850 million investment in a massive solar farm that will offset the power used by its operations in California.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.