Arizona Public Service and Aligned Data Centers, a division of Aligned Energy, has announced an unprecedented collaboration designed to meet the changing needs of the data center industry while delivering increased reliability and enhanced power delivery to its customers.

Data centers represent large static loads on the grid which, because of the type of information they store, require higher levels of reliability and power quality than most other large users of electricity. Aligned’s Phoenix data center, through its more robust design and unique cooperation with APS, will be able to isolate itself from the grid proactively at times of greater grid congestion. This allows APS to more effectively manage the grid and deliver greater reliability to its customers.

APS and Aligned worked to design a “next generation” microgrid. The heart of the project is a new 69-kilovolt (kV) enhanced-capability substation, located at Union Hills Drive and I-17. Four different power lines fed from three sources will bring electricity to the on-site substation — meaning if one line experiences an outage, the redundancy is already in place to ensure the data center continues to receive reliable power.

“This is a win-win initiative,” said Scott Bordenkircher, APS director of Technology Innovation. “Our customers will see the benefits of increased reliability and power quality, and it will be more attractive for new businesses to locate to Arizona.”

Aligned Data Centers chose Phoenix as one of its core markets largely because of the attractive electricity rates and reliable energy from APS. Part of developing the area to support the new data center meant investing in this new, innovative energy generation and infrastructure upgrades. In addition to the substation, APS is working with Aligned to build a next gen 63-megawatt microgrid project, further enhancing the facility’s reliability and security.

“Our utility team worked closely with APS to engineer dedicated utility infrastructure that can accommodate the dynamic power and high-availability requirements of large enterprises and hyper-scale service providers,” says Jakob Carnemark, CEO of Aligned. “While we deliver full UPS and generator infrastructure for back-up power to our data center clients, we partnered with APS to deliver base utility power that, by itself, was more reliable than most data centers on the market today.”

Aligned Data Centers is offering the first “Pay for Use” utility model for the data center industry. “In addition to a better business model, we are driving to deliver a step function increase in the level of data center reliability, and close cooperation with the utilities is critical to that delivery,” said Aligned’s Carnemark. Aligned Data Centers’ Phoenix data center will be the largest multi-tenant data center in Arizona, capable of offering both high-availability and high-efficiency — something the current crop of data centers in Phoenix struggle to deliver. The company will be utilizing a patented heat-removal technology from sister company Inertech, which has been proven to reduce water consumption by as much as 85%.  This technology, coupled with other infrastructure enhancements, allows Aligned Data Centers to guarantee a PUE of 1.15 — the lowest in the market.

APS has taken an industry lead to find innovative ways to increase customer and system reliability, and meet future resource needs by partnering on projects like Aligned’s Phoenix data center. Construction of the substation is nearly complete, and the on-site generators are expected to be in service soon.