As usual, NYT is short on the facts
Lots of things have changed. Many datacenters are now virtualized which saves a lot of energy. Some are even powered with solar and other renewable energy.
I think NYT is just jealous that they're losing their shirts to the Internet.
I agree - the old data center was very inefficient in terms of power per cpu cycle. I also see the trend to using more renewable energy in data centers, and I tend to stay away from the SE US for data centers, as most of the power in that area is from coal.
In fact, I am almost in route to Las Vegas NV to move our equipment from one data center to another, as we had an issue a couple of months ago, where our current dc lost power and couldn't get it back up for a few hours.
I like my servers being hosted in Las Vegas, as Hoover Dam is a major source of power, and also the solar arrays near Boulder City and north of Las Vegas. I won't lie and say that my dc is 100% green, as I am pretty sure we also get power from a coal plant just north of Vegas, but the trend is overall, much cleaner and more efficient than it was 10 years ago even.