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Data center colo scores energy rebates for UPS and more

Hurricane Electric stands to receive tens of thousands of dollars in utility rebates from PG&E, thanks to an efficient UPS, light sensors, and other energy-efficiency measures.

Hurricane Electric, a Fremont, Calif.-based Web hoster and data center colocation provider, opened a 208,000-square-foot data center facility today. The company also scored utility rebates from Pacific Gas & Electric, and Benny Ng, the company's director of infrastructure, recently spoke about how the company got them.

How did you find out about and then get the utility rebates?
It was a combination of a couple things. We attend a bunch of industry functions, and someone from PG&E was always talking about incentives. An account rep will come around and talk about different programs they have going on. It's in their best interested to get people interested in these programs. There is money to be had. They definitely incentivize you to be more efficient.

For more on energy-efficient data centers and rebates:
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Where did you get your incentives?
We put in a higher-[efficiency] (Eaton) UPS that cost more than the baseline UPS [uninterruptible power supply]. We'll be getting a sizeable incentive on this. We did a skylight project. We had a bunch of skylights on the roof that we ripped out and replaced with fiberglass, and we got a couple thousand dollars for that.

My point is that there are so many different projects that you can do -- be it a UPS or an air conditioner where you're getting tens of thousands of dollars -- to smaller projects. It's not like they're only interested in big amounts of power savings. Anything you can do is good, even if it's little bites.

You mentioned the baseline UPS. Can you explain that?
What PG&E does is determine the efficiency of the average or medium UPS, for example, and then determines the average cost for an X-sized UPS. When we got them, we tell them we want to put in a highly efficient UPS that is X% efficient and it will cost X amount of dollars. They will pay you up to half that difference.

What other incentives did you get?
Light sensors. I have a bunch of rows of cabinets, with lights over all the cabinets. In a data center, there aren't a lot of people walking around, so I fixed up the sensors to shut the lights off when no one is around. For every sensor, they give you a certain amount of dollars. We also put in new exit lighting using LED lighting. That's everything so far.

So there might be more in the future?
There is always more stuff we can do. We had been pushing (PG&E) to get a baseline for a transformer. We wanted to put in a highly efficient transformer. If you get an inefficient one, you lose power right off the bat. Supposedly they will have a baseline soon on that, and in our next phase if we put in a new transformer, we might be able to get that.

As soon as we up hot-aisle containment, we'll get another incentive. It's just that we don't have the actual containment set up yet.

So how much will PG&E pay you for all of these energy-efficiency efforts?
We have a rough idea of what it's going to be. I think it's going to be in the tens of thousands -- more than $10,000, less than $50,000.

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