CenturyLink today is opening its first data center powered by renewable energy, and promising to pass the significant savings onto its customers. The data center, based in central Washington state, will be powered in part by hydro-electricity from the Columbia River.
The new Moses Lake, Wash., facility will be largely air-cooled due to its location, and built on real estate that is relatively inexpensive, says Drew Leonard, vice president of colocation product management for CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). From this site, CenturyLink expects to serve current and new customers, both in and out of its local service footprint from Oregon and Washington, but also Silicon Valley and the Midwestern US.
Because of its low rating for potential disasters -- earthquakes are uncommon as, more obviously, are emergencies such as hurricanes and tornados -- the central Washington area is a great place from which a new data center can deliver backup, disaster recovery or a wide range of other services, Loenard notes. Real estate is cheap, relative to other places, and the ability to buy its power from a local utility that includes hydro-electric power as one of its sources means power costs are also lower. For three-quarters of the year, CenturyLink expects to do most of its cooling with outside air, not air-conditioning.
Because power represents about 50% of a data center's costs, "this brings the overall costs of operating this data center down significantly," he says. "Our customers will absolutely be able to take advantage of those lower costs."
CenturyLink's plan is to start with eight megawatts of IT offload on this site, with the ability to ramp up to 30 megawatts, Leonard says. That expansion capability will give the company the opportunity to court new customers with specialized needs.
"This represents an opportunity to expand beyond the existing walls of the data center today to provide utility data center capacity" and do "build to suit" opportunities for "customers with very specific customized requirements," Leonard says. "This opens up the breadth of portfolio that we traditionally offer and lets us satisfy different types of demand. It opens us up to a whole new set of customers."
CenturyLink continues to look at data center power options that are renewable, working with utility companies on that front, he said.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading