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Re: [Possible OT] California, and running off of generators for extended periods
On Tue, 16 January 2001, Jerry Scharf wrote: > Unless you have a group that is really really set up to run on local power as > your main source, it's best to use it as the backup it was designed to be. > Unless the facility is ready to make a major commitment to local power > generation, the risks outweigh the benefits, IMO. I'd agree with this statement. Although some politicians have made a deal about the "Internet" economies effects on the power situation in California, the major colo and hosting companies don't really have much effect on the "peak" load. They already have either interruptible contracts, or go on generator when the voltage starts fluctuating. When the grid is down to the last 0.5%, a lot of data center load is already shed off the grid. Which really shows you how bad things have gotten. The problems with doing this on a regular basis. "STANDBY" power systems are standby systems. It seems obvious, but folks don't always remember it. Standby plants are not designed, built or maintained for continious operation. When you order a generator from Catapiller, you have three options: Primary, Continious and Standby. The different types of generators have different costs, and standard features. Maintaining and operating a continious power plant is very different from a standby power plant. Its effects everything from OSHA regulations to the type of employees you need on staff. The Environmental Protection Agency assumes standby generators operate when the grid is off-line, so the net pollution is about zero. If you operate while the grid is on-line, the EPA will start asking for impact statements. For local pollution controls, the assumption is standby generators operate a maximum of 250 hours per year (including testing, standby duty, etc). Normally not a problem, except maybe this year. Once again, more than 250 hours of operation, and someone will want an impact statement. Some local air quality control boards may have more stringiant controls. And finally, the most important factor: cost. Power from the grid is the average cost of power including very cheap hydro and nuclear to more expensive coal and gas fueled plants. While the peak cost of operating your own diesel may be less, the average cost is usually more. If you've been reading the newspapers, you will have seen a number of people making noise about co-generation plants. Many large universities already have on-campus co-gen facilities. The problem is in the past co-gen only made sense when you had a use for the "excess" heat, such as heating the college campus. The one thing colo/hosting facilities don't need is excess heat. But, depending on how the market shapes up, it may make financial sense to operate your own power facility. If you can partner with a nearby institution which needs the heat, and can share the reliable power (e.g. a hospital, hotel, large office complex) you might make it work.