STORY Power Generation

Bits and bytes boom in the Silicon Forest

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Ashleigh Artist, Images by Pacific Power Group; LinkedIn; Fotolia

As alternative silicon cities crop up throughout the country, a cluster of high-tech companies have chosen Portland, Oregon, as the home for their data colocation centers.
Portland, USA

Silicon Valley, the world’s beloved tech corridor, is no longer the only coveted ground for tech entrepreneurs, engineers and giants of industry. Cities across America like Boston, Phoenix and Salt Lake City offer the low housing costs, favorable business incentives and access to talent required to support an emerging tech environment. As alternative silicon cities crop up throughout the country, a cluster of high-tech companies have chosen Portland, Oregon, dubbed the “Silicon Forest,” as the home for their data colocation centers. Oregon is home to one of the most dense fiber networks in the Pacific Northwest and offers the best seismic profile of any of the West Coast states, making it an ideal location for data networking and telecommunications.
Approximately 600 miles north of California, Portland, emerged as a prime locale for tech companies in the 1980s. Today, the state’s absence of sales tax, low energy costs and moderate construction costs help position Oregon as a viable outpost for tech giants and their data centers, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
“We have always thought of Hillsboro, Oregon, as a destination market for IT operations,” said John Sheputis, President of Infomart Data Centers. “Infomart recognizes the area’s growing technology prowess and is happy to support our customers’ local IT departments and extended contractor base.”

Infomart’s data center in Portland extends over 445,000-square-foot.

Cloudy with no chance of rain
Infomart began in 2006 with the goal of ensuring constant connectivity for vital web- and cloud-based service providers around the country. Today, the company is an award-winning industry leader recognized for its commitment to maintaining reliability and responsible, best-in-class management and operations with locations in Silicon Valley, Portland, Dallas and Ashburn, Virginia.

After Infomart Portland’s 2011 inception, the company began working with Pacific Power Group, an authorized mtu Onsite Energy distributor, to help achieve low subtransient reactance (<12%) and 100% uptime in the event of a power outage. Together, Pacific Power Group and Infomart collaborated to engineer a system and peripheral equipment with custom specifications for the Portland facility’s standby power needs. “Power system priorities for Infomart Portland were low fuel consumption, low subtransient reactance, 85% load factor and flexibility for future growth. mtu checked every box and then some,” said Sheputis.

The three-phased project included the delivery of 14 mtu Onsite Energy Series 4000 DS generator set units delivering 2 and 2.25 megawatts of power with onboard paralleling capabilities, custom enclosures and sub-base fuel tanks and a 100% rated circuit breaker with ground fault indicator. The mtu Series 4000 generator set is designed for optimal fuel consumption, exceptional reliability and high power density. Currently, all 14 units are installed on site and fully commissioned delivering exceptional performance. “We have experienced a handful of power outages by the utility at Infomart Portland. Each and every time, the mtu Onsite Energy systems have operated flawlessly,” said Doug Shotwell, Solutions Architect at Infomart Data Centers. “All seven systems started within 10 seconds of power loss and operated through the duration of the outage without incident.”

A sound-attenuated enclosure reduces engine noise to 60 decibels - well below the industry average of 105 decibels.

The facility sits just 25 feet off the nearest property line, making sound attenuation critical. The generator sets are contained in custom enclosures rated for 60 decibels of sound (dBA). A typical generator set emits up to 105 dBA— about the loudness of a gas-powered lawnmower at three feet. With these custom enclosures, the generator sets operate at noise levels similar to an air-conditioning unit at a distance of 100 feet. “We’ve had current and potential customers tour the facility and often hear a comment saying that the mtu Onsite Energy generators are much quieter than they originally expected,” said Shotwell.

Infomart Portland sources hydroelectricity from the federal Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to achieve a 96% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to the national utility average. The data center, which is Uptime Tier 3 compliant and provides 99% efficiency of uninterrupted power supply, is expected to save over 48 million kilowatt hours and reduce carbon emission by 43 million pounds over the next decade.

One of the most dense fiber networks, low housing costs and low taxes attract the tech giants. They dubbed Portland the “Silicon Forest”.

During summer 2016, Infomart Portland completed a 100,000-square-foot expansion, making it the largest data center in Oregon and one of the largest facilities on the West Coast. As Infomart Portland continues to grow, Pacific Power Group will continue to support their standby power needs every step of the way with preventive maintenance and scalability for the critical information hub. “Infomart has relied on the Pacific Power Group team’s expertise for industry intelligence and background. We can also count on Pacific Power Group to resolve technical issues—big or small—during every phase of a project,” said Shotwell.

About Infomart

Infomart Data Centers, a rapidly growing builder, operator and owner of carrier-neutral, wholesale data centers, opened its 345,000 square-foot data center in Hillsboro in 2011. They have attracted leading Internet companies, including LinkedIn, which recently consolidated its U.S. data center operations by leasing 8 MW of scalable data space from Infomart. This is the first LinkedIn data center designed to operate at a scale of 100,000-plus servers.

Point of contact

Mark Jentges
+1 507 385 8627