UPS Avoids the EBay Mistake, Being Fined for Air Pollution from Diesel Generators in their Green Data Center

Many of you have read the SearchDataCenter article about United Parcel Service’s Green Data Center efforts.  The interesting part behind the scenes is UPS runs its diesel generators frequently and stays in compliance with local emissions standards.  A $79,200 mistake eBay made.

Given Georgia’s water shortage jeopardizing nuclear power plant operations, a reliable power supply seems an issue.  Digging a little deeper, I found it interesting that has UPS listed as a power plant.  Then I found this article in Diesel Progress with details on how UPS installed an Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system to allow to meet the Georgia EPA emissions standards, and run the diesel generators when spot demand power prices go above 7 cents/kWh.

Parrino said Windward uses the generator sets during a total loss of utility power, during brownouts/voltage swells or grid instabilities, during power switching activities from other users on the nearby grid, during maintenance or troubleshooting by Georgia Power, as well as peak shaving when the cost of electricity exceeds 7 cents/kWh.

Windward developed a program that would put the facility in compliance with the clean air requirements, and allow it to obtain a new air permit that provides the facility the flexibility to run its generators in the ways best suited to the data center a any time of the year, as well as to not degrade engine performance.

But, there is now a bureaucratic overhead for UPS as a power plant.

As easy as it was to obtain the approval from GA-EPD, complying with the quarterly air permit reporting requirements was painstakingly difficult, the project team members said. Windward’s air permit had many requirements scattered throughout that had to be compiled into a simplified format.

Examples of this are minute-by-minute logging of the urea injection rates, then obtaining 60 minute averages for each gen-set. With six gen-sets logging an average of 130 hours of runtime annually, the database becomes very bulky in a short amount of time. Other reporting requirements include cumulative run-hours on the first of every month. From the cumulative run-hours, the monthly run-hours are then computed.

If I was UPS I would consider installing the power generation software solution from OSIsoft.  Pat Kennedy, OSIsoft’s CEO also pointed out that if you were in San Diego you could turn on your generators before a blackout, but if you were in SF you would have to wait for the blackout before switching on your backup generators.