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Data Center Power Generation Roundtable: States Reinventing Energy Delivery Since Hurricane Sandy

Sep 29, 2017
by Josh Anderson

ASHBURN, VA – At a recent CapRE event in mid-September, we had the pleasure of welcoming five data center insiders to a roundtable discussion called Innovations in Data Center Power Generation, Reliability and Competitive Pricing. Among the topics of discussion were how the energy sector, on many levels, has changed markedly since Hurricane Sandy. Below is the second part of a transcription of this riveting discussion (check out the first part of this data center power generation roundtable here).

Richard S. Sweetser, Senior Advisor – CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships, U.S. Department of Energy: States Picking Up Slack

…The movement lately has come from the states. The states have picked it up since Superstorm Sandy. And there have been other power outages – big ones, like the 2003 blackouts. And in the next six months, they were forgotten. Superstorm Sandy was different, because we have tremendous changes in the state of New York. They’re reinventing how energy gets delivers. It’s called the “Rev Process” – you can google that. In the near future, energy will be delivered quite differently in the city. And you have some states that are starting to follow suit – primarily the New England States and the West Coast. You really need to look at Washington and California —  what they’re doing. They’re making major shifts. They are also looking at carbon reduction, energy efficiency, and they’re moving forward with some serious progress. It will impact data centers.

Jim Libertini, Product Manager for Energy Efficiency and Controls, Baltimore Gas and Electric: 180 Degree Turn on Methodology

Looking on the policy side, Hurricane Sandy really changed the vision within the utility on how they look at generating power yourself, as opposed to the utility supplying power. I’d say they did a 180 degree turn on their thought process and methodology, creating programs to really help our customers provide power for themselves and be self-sufficient.

We have proud programs that we’ve worked on the state of Maryland with, giving out $2.5 million in incentives, to help customers supply their own generation. The utility as a whole is absolutely behind us on this. We’ve been very successful in the hospital community. But we’ve struggled to break into the data center community.

Rory Spangler, Program Manager – Commercial & Industrial Energy Programs, Maryland Energy Administration: Maryland Changing the Data Center Power Generation Game

Maryland is unique, I think. In the fact that when it comes to policy, with resiliency, we have taken a new approach and realized that we are in a highly congested area. We’ve got a lot of different suppliers. And a lot of different energy. So we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve. We’re looking at community micro grids and distributed generation. And the use of renewables. For us we see that that will tie in directly to industries, specifically data centers.

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