An Example of Data Center Site Selection: Reno Technology Park

In the recent Critical Facilities Roundtable (CFRT) meeting Nick Pavich of Unique Infrastructure Group gave a presentation on Reno Technology Park (RTP) as an example of how a data center site should be selected.

Nick Pavich

There are several criteria for picking the best site for your data center. His focus was on:

  • Location
  • Power
  • Real estate
  • Tax

RTP is in the Reno area, about 220 miles east of the San Francisco Bay Area (three and a half hours away by car and 55 minutes away by plane). According to Nick, Reno is situated in one of the few areas in the United States not subject to natural disasters or manmade disasters like leakage of radioactive particles from nuclear power plant malfunctions. In the past, the hazards map usually did not include the locations of nuclear power plants, but in view of the Japanese accident, his talk was timely.

RTP’s site is near the Reno-Tahoe industrial park, and many companies are moving there. The site is a greenfield and thus is equipped with many modern technologies and equipment. It has a power plant (Tracy power plant). It has a base load of 1,000 MW (50% legacy and 50% natural gas–based sources) with multiple 345 kV transmission lines. They are constructing a modern substation that will comply with NERC’s CIP standards, a differentiating point. Moreover, they have access to wind and solar power supplemented by wholesale power from Northwest. In addition, the fiber networks are supplied by multiple providers (ATT, Verizon, Level 3, and Williams) along Interstate 80, satisfying the top two requirements for data centers. Their latency number is very reasonable, such as to the East Coast and India.

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Improving Power and Cooling Efficiency in the Datacenter
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On top of all this, the site has multiple natural gas lines close by, making it possible to generate power with gas on-site at their data center. They also have enough water and apply a technology to recycle water.

The site is on private land zoned industrial with no environmental regulations or other restrictions. Its weather permits year-round construction. Its hot, dry climate supports very low PUE.

As for taxes, Nevada has no:

  • Corporate tax (the only other states without a corporate tax are South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming)
  • Tax on software purchases
  • Franchise fees
  • Personal income tax
  • Tax on power purchase

In addition, business personal property tax is abated to 0% for 20 years on all equipment, and sales and use tax is abated to 2% for 18 years on all equipment.

It is a long and complex process to find a site for a data center, and it is amazing to find the ideal site. No wonder there are consultants who choose sites for their clients. This is great information, but what about existing sites? What can we do to improve them? A site that was optimal a few years ago may not be so in coming years. But it is not that easy to move your data centers to a new location. The immediate need is power capacity. In view of the recent earthquake in Japan and the power shortage it caused, and considering the global view of energy needs discussed in Ripu Malhotra’s book, I am growing more interested in the use and availability of energy.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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