Sabey Corp. has received approval from state regulators to install up to 44 diesel generators to supply critical back-up power for its new data center campus in Quincy, Washington. The Washington Department of Ecology issued an air quality permit to Sabey on Aug. 26 for its Intergate.Quincy project.
The approval comes three weeks after the state issued a similar permit to Dell that clears the way for the computer company to install 28 generators in its planned cloud computing data center in Quincy.
Quincy, a small town in a rural section of Washington state, has developed into a major data center hub featuring several of the world's most advanced and efficient data centers from Microsoft and Yahoo, along with a project for Intuit . Each of the data centers in Quincy uses banks of generators to provide backup power in the event of a utility outage. Diesel engine exhaust is a regulated pollutant, and can be toxic in high concentrations, so state regulators routinely review permits for generators.
Debate Over Generator Health Impact
The growing number of diesel generators in Quincy generated debate last year when Microsoft applied to add more generators for the second phase of its campus in Quincy. The Ecology department conducted an evaluation of the health risks from diesel engine exhaust particulates, and found that the Microsoft expansion, viewed in isolation, was not likely to impact public health. But the Department of Ecology took the opportunity to seek feedback from area residents, citing the growing concentration of data centers.
After reviewing and approving the Dell and Sabey projects, the state says its is satisfied that the public's health is not at risk from the generator density in Quincy. Over the last year, the Department of Ecology has issued permits for an additional 95 generators at the Microsoft, Yahoo, Dell and Sabey projects.
"We all generate so much data in this day and age that protecting that data has become critically important in our society," said Karen Wood, who manages Ecology’s Air Quality Program in Spokane. "Our role is to make sure the generators are run in a way that protects the public’s health and the air we breathe."
The Intergate.Quincy project has been in the planning stages since 2007. Plans for the Sabey campus call for three data center buildings housing more than 525,000 square feet of space. Buildings A and B will each be approximately 189,000 square feet, and Building C will be 139,000 square feet. Building C is currently permitted and scheduled for completion in the fall of 2011.