Arizona Public Service Developing 63-MW Data Center Microgrid

March 17, 2016
Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS) is in the process of developing a large data center microgrid — 63-MW – with partner Aligned Data Centers, a subsidiary of Aligned Energy

Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS) is in the process of developing a large data center microgrid — 63-MW – with partner Aligned Data Centers, a subsidiary of Aligned Energy.

The utility and pay-for-use data center provider are billing the project as a ‘next generation microgrid’ that will include a new 69-kV enhanced-capability substation, located at Union Hills Drive and I-17 in Phoenix.

Four different power lines fed from three generation sources will bring electricity to the on-site substation, now under construction. As a result, if one line fails, the other lines provide redundancy to ensure that electricity keeps flowing to the data center.

The project will not only supply reliable power for the data center, but serve a larger effort to draw businesses to the area, according to the utility.

“This is a win-win initiative,” said Scott Bordenkircher, APS director of technology innovation. “Our customers will see the benefits of increased reliability and power quality, and it will be more attractive for new businesses to locate to Arizona.”

While large, the data center microgrid will be far from the largest in the U.S. That status often is given to the Robins Air Force Base 160-MW plus microgrid in Georgia or the complex 135-MW microgrid at the University of Texas. Other even larger microgrids are in development, including the Niobrara Energy Park in Colorado, which is planning to serve multiple data centers with a 200-MW gas-fired plant, a 50-MW solar farm, 50 MW of fuel cells, and other energy resources.

Data centers and microgrids are considered a natural pairing because of the large amount of energy consumed by data centers and their need for high quality, reliable power.

The Arizona data center microgrid will be particularly valuable because it will deliver baseload power and be able to island from the central grid during periods of high congestion, according to the partners.

“Our utility team worked closely with APS to engineer dedicated utility infrastructure that can accommodate the dynamic power and high-availability requirements of large enterprises and hyper-scale service providers,” said Jakob Carnemark, CEO of Aligned. “While we deliver full UPS and generator infrastructure for back-up power to our data center clients, we partnered with APS to deliver base utility power that, by itself, was more reliable than most data centers on the market today.”

Aligned Data Centers offers a ‘pay for use’ model with consumption-based pricing for enterprises, service providers, and governments who require greater control of data center cost and faster time-to-market.

“In addition to a better business model, we are driving to deliver a step function increase in the level of data center reliability, and close cooperation with the utilities is critical to that delivery,” said Carnemark.

The project also will use heat-removal technology from sister company Inertech, designed to reduce water consumption by as much as 85 percent.  This technology, coupled with other infrastructure enhancements, allows Aligned Data Centers to guarantee a PUE of 1.15, what it describes as the lowest in the market.

Track development of data center microgrids by subscribing to the free Microgrid Knowledge newsletter.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...


How Microgrids Save Schools Money

Utility costs make up a large percentage of a school or university’s spending budget. A new white paper from Mesa Solutions outlines the economic benefits that campus microgrids...