Arizona Public Service Developing 63-MW Data Center Microgrid

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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.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


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