Who Consumes 14 Gigawatts of Peak Hour Power?

At the moment of this writing it is 119 degrees here in Arizona where I sit. In case you thought data centers were the power consuming scourge we’ve heard of in the past, the broader market of consumer and industrial users suck up huge amounts of unmanaged power when mother-nature decides it’s going to be HOT!

The Metro Phoenix, Arizona area is served by two electric utility providers, APS and SRP. On previous 118 degree days they ponied up 6,873 and 7,236 Megawatts respectively during peak load between 4 to 5 p.m. That’s over 14 Gigawatts at peak load in terms of power generation and distribution.

What we should all be amazed about is the ability of the power utilities and the grid to manage this peak load in such a challenging environment. At WiredRE we use a simple graph based on the power industry approach to demand response at peak load, and how that compares to how IT resources are consumed.

demand response 2

The point is that when dramatic peak load occurs, both the power industry and IT workloads use their Flex and Peak JIT alternatives to service the workloads. For IT it’s DCRE, Colo, Cloud, and for utilities it is various types of power generation or sharing for JIT/peak load requirements.

Don’t forget that data centers are simply a different form of power utility. Done right, they offer the same or better resiliency as the utility grid, and we should be happy and proud of this success. If residential and industrial power consumers worked as hard as data centers to manage their PUE (energy efficiency), I fully expect 14 Gigawatts would be impressively lower.