Proposed Colorado data center to be powered by biomass

By Matt Soberg | August 22, 2011

Vineyards LLC is developing a data center campus, Vineyards Data Center Park, which will be powered by a 50-megawatt biomass plant. The use of biomass for energy provides attractive power pricing that should be enticing to potential data center occupants. 

The development is shovel ready and in the process of selecting a capital partner. Computer data center units should be available for occupancy and lease by spring 2012.  

The development will be located on a 100-acre parcel of property south of downtown Colorado Springs, Colo. Colorado Springs Utilities, the local utility, is planning the biomass and waste-to-energy plant, which will be located on-site. The biomass plant is a joint venture, providing electricity to Vineyards and the city of Colorado Springs.  

The plant will utilize woody biomass as a feedstock, particularly mountain pine beetle-killed timber. Colorado Springs lies at the base of the mountains in close proximity to the beetle infestation. Using this wood for sustainable energy purposes is an excellent way to benefit from an unfortunate forestry problem. A portion of the bionergy will be derived from municipal waste and other biosolids.

Greg Vernon, vice president of Wired Real Estate Group, said that the Vineyards is in line with the city’s initiative to promote renewable energy resources, and the overall cost of power within the utility power structure, including bionergy, is attractive to businesses at 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Wired Real Estate Group is the data center brokerage and advisory firm that represents Vineyards.

The development will include six buildings with a total of 800,000 square feet. Approximately 400,000 square feet will be used directly for data centers. Various opportunities exist from single occupancy leasing to wholly owned buildings including data center support services.

Public and private investment in the park to completion, including the biomass plant, is estimated to cost nearly $1 billion. The biomass plant is estimated to be running by 2014.

Forty acres of the site will be given back to Colorado Springs for a park and will be connected to the state’s longest bike path. Special covenants on the development promote sustainability and environmentally low-impact construction.