"Less than two days ago, The Data Centers, LLC announced that the EPA was behind them on the construction of a 279-megawatt power plant. The letter from Gary McNeil (of the EPA's CHP ((combined-heat-and-power or waste-heat recovery)) Partnership Program) lauded TDC's new project stating: (the power plant) ""demonstrates exceptional leadership in energy use and management.""
McNeil continued, ""with this letter, we write to express our support for the use of CHP by The Data Centers, LLC as part of the construction of a data center on the University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark, Delaware."" The site of the proposed cogeneration data center used to house a former Chrysler plant.
Then came a bit of retraction: another EPA spokesperson, Carissa Cyran said: ""(the) letter was written in support of the type of technology proposed by The Data Centers for its CHP facility, the letter is not an endorsement of the project.""
If you look at the CHP Emission Calculator it is estimated that TDC's power plant will produce far less emissions per year when compared to annual emissions of traditional power sources. TDC's plant would produce 1,400 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions, 9,200 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions and 1,030,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions less than the average power plant.
Which sounds great, and why wouldn't the EPA back a power plant with that much of an energy savings, plus it's reusing a former Chrysler plant? Well, according to critics, the origin of the letter is in doubt.
Ken Grant, who started a petition supporting the project and who just recently became the spokesman for TDC, insists that the company did not solicit a letter of support from the EPA - but is happy that the government agency is ""backing them.""
Grant went on to say: ""We are not sure how this ended up on the EPA's radar, but they reached out to TDC and asked for the information and did the study themselves. We're looking at something that not only doesn't damage the environment but actually helps.""
In reaction to Grant's statement, Cyran would not go into detail of how the letter was initiated or by whom.
So is the EPA backing them: yes and no, and the EPA is now investigating the validity of the letter.
The main issue with the ""endorsement"" letter is that, according to critics, that the EPA administers a ""generic"" partner program encouraging industries to maximize the use of heat in power production. Companies who sign up for this program would get an ""Energy Star"" - esque (like the ones you see on appliances) seal of approval to market the company.
Under The Data Centers' proposal, piped-in natural gas would fuel water-cooled, jet engine-like combustion turbines that would spin generators. Instead of venting heat to the atmosphere, steam from turbines would be ducted away to turn a second generator, or to supply building heat and cooling needs. It could also be piped to users offsite.
The Data Center, LLC used the EPA's analysis - which, according to the EPA does not mean they are endorsing the project, but they are in ""support"" of the project.
It's a confusing time in the data center world. TDC's power plant model may be one of the world's most energy efficient data centers, using CHP, and it seems to have the EPA's approval, and it also seems to not have the EPA's approval.
For more information on data centers, especially green data centers, visit datacenters.com for a full directory of the world's data centers, the center's services and the latest news in the industry."