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  1. #1

    * Major spike in Electrical Bill - Strategies to reduce utility demand usage & usage?

    Hey All,

    Got a bit of a surprise today and curious to hear your thoughts.

    We operate a new data center in a very expensive state in terms of energy costs (we are in the northeast). Starting this business has been a great learning experience, lots of trial and error. I do not profess to be an expert on the electrical engineering side (but look forward to learning) so please excuse my lack of knowledge. In the last 4 billing cycles (4 months), the billing was based on estimated readings, hovering around 9,000 KWh usage during the winter months. This translated to roughly $2k monthly all said and done. Our generation service charge was on a variable rate of $.079900, from a third party energy supplier.

    Over the last four months, we had a false sense of security in our cost expectations, and projections of our power cost and PUE based on "estimated meter reads". We were probably a bit more liberal with heating because of it. Unfortunately, our heat is electrical, (no natural gas line coming in, costs $40,000 to implement from the street.) We have brought in new customers, but I do not believe their hardware configurations are accounting for the majority of the energy consumption and cost (yet).


    After four months of "estimated meter reading" (which I confess I thought was standard meter reading process), February came, where an actual read of 26 days happened. Bottom line, our usage (and costs) jumped more than 4 times from 9,000 KWH usage to 40,000KWH usage based on the actual read of the meter (first time in 4 months). To make matters worse, our variable price by the energy supplier jumped to .109 cents per KWH. (We have already submitted a requested to switch to a fixed rate of $.086) Lastly, our demand charge went from 45 KW to 73KW. I disputed the bill with the power company, but after some more research I may have to accept the bill.

    We have certainly learned our lesson and power monitoring and efficiency is a major part of focus now.

    So we are going to focus on reducing power consumption. I wanted to know what protocols and controls some of you implemented for environmental control. Our data center has 24/7 access, and in the winter months we do not want our customers to be cold. I was wondering if anyone has implemented some automatic environmental controls for those times a client may show up at 3:00am. (I'm thinking when they enter the facility with their rd card, there is some trigger to turn on the heat, otherwise everything remains off until there is someone actually in the facility.

    Additionally, we certainly could do better with motion active lighting etc. We will have to accept the consumption of our 40 ton Liebert CRAC unit and dry coolers of course.

    I am sure all data center owners went through a similar growing pain in the early months of their business and systematically off the excess energy usage and waste. Any further advice, monitoring software/controls or general strategies as we re-structure our energy approach is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    Rob

  2. #2
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    Do you utilize the colder temperatures of the northern areas in the winter to reduce power consumption by using a 2 phase heat exchanger?

    Also, I would push out a bulletin asking customers to set servers to power save mode vs performance. There is no reason what so ever to have a server run max out if its doing nothing, intel cpus have great power scaling and it should be utilized. AMD isn't far behind.

    Your lighting is at most 2% of the monthly power bill.
    'Ripcord'ing is the only way!

  3. #3
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    What cooling equipment do you use?

    You really should be using a system like powerlogic to monitor _everything_ related to power so you know exactly what your PUE is and where your power bill is going, also a good audit against the power company etc.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    You could try to recirculate air from the hot rows into the plenum and use some of that to warm the office area (if feasible, I don't know your floorplan).
    Though, I don't think keeping your office area warm is going to be that large of a cost... Keeping it "acceptable" at around 65-68F is probably fine, you don't have to heat it to 72F+.
    Is your Liebert at any point ever shutting down the compressor or do you have it set so low that it runs 24/7 as it will never reach the set point temperature?
    What caused your demand charge to jump so high?
    Last edited by ItsChrisG; 03-07-2011 at 11:40 PM.

  5. #5

    Thanks.

    Thanks for the reply's everyone.

    Just to answer a couple of questions. We use a 40 ton Liebert CRAC unit + a 3 fan dry cooler outside.

    I will check into power logic right now. And as for the 2 phase heat exchanger, this is the first time I have heard of that. Visbits could you explain a bit more about this?

    We have not yet gotten too creative in harnessing the seasons of the north east, so I'm very happy to be having this discussion.

    Lastly, good idea about requesting the clients to use power save modes. Additionally, very much like the idea of channeling the hot air into the office spaces, our floorplan would work well with this.

    Thanks again guys.

  6. #6
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    I don't think telling your clients to set their equipment to power save mode is going to fly.
    Most people are anal about having their machines at max performance 24/7 and they will argue that they are paying for the power, so they should be able to use it.

    You may want to look at what you are charging these customers for their colocation... you may have underpriced things before you knew what your actual costs were going to be like per 1Amp of their usage...

  7. #7
    To make matters worse, our variable price by the energy supplier jumped to .109 cents per KWH. (We have already submitted a requested to switch to a fixed rate of $.086)
    Those rates are really high (including the fixed rates). Feel free to PM me and I can send you the names a of a couple suppliers that can get that down to a more manageable rate.

    -Tom

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robsterparty View Post
    Thanks for the reply's everyone.

    Visbits could you explain a bit more about this?

    We have not yet gotten too creative in harnessing the seasons of the north east, so I'm very happy to be having this discussion.
    I'm not for sure on a manufacture or model but the 2 data center facility we are using here in cincinnati use a 2 phase exchanger in the winter, they are using a ethylene glycol cooling system that is chilled to 58F, well if its 50F or less outside it would be wise to utilize it.

    The system is just a bunch of radiators and fans, rather simple device.

    So all those days its less than 50F outside your AC units wouldn't be running, that's what 200 amps your not using?
    'Ripcord'ing is the only way!

  9. #9
    Thanks again for the replys all. You guys are great.

    Curious about room for negotiation with energy suppliers, particularly as a data center that relatively speaking will consume more energy than other industries. Anyone have any luck?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    652
    (I'm thinking when they enter the facility with their rd card, there is some trigger to turn on the heat,
    NO!! The heaters are in the racks, they are called servers. You dont really turn on electric heat do you?

    We will have to accept the consumption of our 40 ton Liebert CRAC unit and dry coolers of course.
    NO!!!! This is an excellent target for energy efficincy. Get a good commercial or industrial refrigeration contractor to come out and discuss floating head pressure, electronic expansion devices, and liquid pumps with you. Most CRAC units artifically limit the head pressure. The lower the head pressure, the more efficient your system.
    Additionally, investigate 'free cooling' opportunities such as mentioned above (glycol heat exchangers or air-side economizers)
    Also, next time, do NOT get a CRAC unit with the compressor in the air handler.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Some random thoughts:

    - You have a single 40 ton CRAC unit, on a 3 fan dry cooler? That setup alone is probably pulling down about 45-50 amps on 480v 3 phase, roughly 37KW / 26000kWH/mo.
    - What are your set points?
    - What is the size of your critical load? I'm guessing pretty small, probably around 35-40KW?
    - I wonder why you went with a single 40 ton unit, and not something more aptly sized, like two 20 ton units, as this would have also gotten you N+1 and cost much less to operate.
    - Are you doing any sort of hot aisle/cold aisle containment?
    - If your winter rates are $.10/kWH, I shudder to think what it's going to cost you in the summer months.
    - You might want to give these folks a call: http://www.enabledenergy.net/
    Jay Sudowski // Handy Networks LLC // Co-Founder & CTO
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Suds View Post
    Some random thoughts:

    - You have a single 40 ton CRAC unit, on a 3 fan dry cooler? That setup alone is probably pulling down about 45-50 amps on 480v 3 phase, roughly 37KW / 26000kWH/mo.
    - What are your set points?
    - What is the size of your critical load? I'm guessing pretty small, probably around 35-40KW?
    - I wonder why you went with a single 40 ton unit, and not something more aptly sized, like two 20 ton units, as this would have also gotten you N+1 and cost much less to operate.
    - Are you doing any sort of hot aisle/cold aisle containment?
    - If your winter rates are $.10/kWH, I shudder to think what it's going to cost you in the summer months.
    - You might want to give these folks a call: http://www.enabledenergy.net/
    Ditto,

    In regards to the setpoints based upon your other posts it sounds like you've got the singular unit on full-blast and then are offsetting the unit with secondary heat? Thats just driving your workload and pushing your compressors further. Or did I misread that?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Reston
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    -Older UPS systems can add quite a bit of power consumption.
    -Cold aisle containment systems may also help you to maximize the usage on your CRAC units, allowing you to turn them down a few notches. It's also arguable to use hot aisle containment and I don't have the hard facts as to which is more efficient.
    -If you are operating a smaller DC, a few thousand sf, you could look into get a timer / motion sensor set on your lights to shut off if no one is on the floor.

    Just some simple suggestions. Cooling does normally account for close to 30% of your monthly cooling bill, so it is a large factor to consider. UPS can be an expensive component and may require some downtime depending on how the infrastructure is configured.
    Dan Buyer
    InfoRelay - Connected, Protected, Perfected.
    Equinix LAX & DC, One Wilshire, Wilshire Annex, MPT, VE, 1275K, Reston Exchange, Reston Equinix, 60 Hudson, NYC, and Chicago
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