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Air Quality Program

Data centers and air quality

Dell Data Center

In the past 10 years, the importance of computer technology in our lives has grown quickly. We create mountains of data every day and the systems for managing that data are critically important to our society. Data centers, or server farms, house the servers that provide email, manage instant messages, store data, and run computer applications. Computer technology companies have been building data centers in various locations around the world to make sure that the information we need is immediately available.

When companies are planning a new data center, they evaluate several factors, including power availability. A dependable power supply is critical because many individuals and businesses need to have continuous access to their email and other electronic information. This means that data centers cannot risk power failures that would disrupt communication and cause data to be lost.

To guard against an electrical power outage, each data center is built with enough backup generators to operate their servers even if electrical power goes out. Ecology is involved in permitting data center construction because the backup generators usually run on diesel fuel. Diesel engine exhaust carries toxic air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, organic compounds, and small particles.

Data centers find Grant County a good place to build

Quincy has become a favored place for data centers because its power supply is a good value and dependable. According to Grant County Public Utility District, power outages in Quincy are rare, with a 99.99 percent annual average reliability. The average time of power failure is less than 3 hours (143 minutes) per year.

A temporary sales tax exemption approved by the Washington State Legislature in 2010 provided further incentive for data centers to locate in Quincy. To qualify for the tax exemption, the data center must have at least 20,000 square feet dedicated to servers and start construction before July 1, 2011.

Ecology regulates air quality in Grant County

Since Grant County does not have a local air agency to regulate air pollution, Ecology is responsible to review projects that have air emissions. All new projects must get approval from Ecology before construction begins.

The air quality permit required for data center construction is called a "Notice of Construction Approval Order." The application for the Notice of Construction requires that the data center company describe all air contaminant emissions from the project, identify the federal air regulations that apply, describe the project's emission control technology, and prove that air quality standards will not be violated. If emissions of toxic air pollutants exceed levels set in state regulations, a health impact assessment must also be conducted to prove that there is minimal health risk to the community.

General information about air quality and data centers

Data center sites in Quincy

The most recent documents about data center projects in Quincy are provided below.

Dell Data Center

Microsoft Columbia Data Center

Microsoft Oxford Data Center

Update as of March 2016: Following the Public Comment Period and Hearing of July 2015, Microsoft submitted a revised permit application. The revisions are currently under review. Upon a completeness determination, Ecology will provide an additional public involvement opportunity for review and comment of the requested permit revisions.

Revised Oxford Data Center Permit Documents:

          Original Oxford Data Center Permit Documents:

Sabey Intergate-Quincy Data Center

Revised Sabey Intergate Data Center Permit Documents:

Original Sabey Intergate Data Center Permit Documents

Vantage Data Center

Yahoo! Data Center

Revised Yahoo! Permit Documents

Original Yahoo! Permit Documents

For more information, contact Jolaine Johnson.

Para asistencia en español: Gregory Bohn (509) 454-4174 o Richelle Perez (360) 407-6084.


To find out about data centers in other areas of Washington, click on the links below.