Data center ‘torture’ for Chandler neighborhood - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Data center ‘torture’ for Chandler neighborhood

December 5th, 2021 development
Data center ‘torture’ for Chandler neighborhood
Community
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Data center ‘torture’ for Chandler neighborhood

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Chandler resident Karthic Thallikar says he chooses his words very carefully, so he pleaded with a reporter not to water down his remarks.

Living next to the CyrusOne data center in south Chandler is torture, he said.

He and Jennifer Goehring are two residents of the Clemente Ranch subdivision that is across Dobson Road from the data center. Goehring agreed with her neighbor on the use of the word ‘torture’ to describe the constant noise coming from the data center.

There are two sources for the noise. The data center has a large number of generators to act as backups in case of an outage and they need to checked and maintained. But the noise they hear most often comes from the chilling units that keep the computer servers from overheating.

“It’s really bad when they run the generators, for maintenance or whatever,” Goehring said. “It sounds like a dump truck.”

“What is more disturbing has been, from 2015 onwards, is this constant chill and hum, because they run 24/7,” said Karthic Thallikar, another resident of Clemente Ranch.

They are concerned about the noise levels because another data center is about to open in the same area.

CyrusOne officials say they are, and have always been, in full compliance with the city’s ordinances. Still, they said they want to be a good neighbor so they added vinyl blankets to all chillers in 2017 as a way to dampen the noise. In tests before and after, they found the blankets reduced the noise be about 10 decibels.

“CyrusOne has never been in violation of any noise ordinances and has, in an effort to be a good neighbor, provided extensive solutions to help alleviate disruption, and, of note, is the only business to send representatives to the Dobson Noise townhalls in a further attempt to hear their voices and be a good neighbor,” Chris Napier, the company’s vice president of operations, wrote in an email statement.

Current readings show the noise level being between 39.4 to 51.4 decibels.

“That’s the industry standard, to measure decibels, but that’s not the noise that bothers people, it’s the hertz,” Goehring said. “And no one is measuring the hertz.”

Thallikar said the company documented the hertzs once, and measured it between 800 to 1.1 kilohertz. Goehring added the company added even more chillers at the same time it was trying to dampen the noise with vinyl blankets, so they really did not notice a difference.

Nearly 200 people have joined a Facebook community called Dobson Noise Community to address the problem.

The city is considering reducing the number of future data centers. Kevin Mayo, the city’s planning administrator, said they take up a lot of space, need lots of electricity and water and don’t bring in a lot of jobs. In addition to that, neighbors are often unhappy with the noise levels.

He gave a presentation to the City Council last month. After getting their recommendations, he and his staff are working on proposals to bring back to Council in four to six months.

CyrusOne officials say the Chandler campus would be the world’s first net water positive data center campus, meaning they will add more water to watersheds than they use. They also pointed out they were awarded energy star certifications.

CyrusOne’s Napier also pointed out their campus sits at a location that is zoned for industrial use and that how far sound waves travel is beyond their control.

“We have addressed these issues to the best of our ability but cannot control how sound moves through the Valley,” he said.

Goehring admitted sound does travel far in her part of town, saying on some nights she can hear the music from concerts playing at Rawhide Western Town some five miles away.

Goehring and Thallikar say owners of the new data center moving into the neighborhood have already reached out to them and held meetings. Aligned officials have promised to deploy new technology they say will not add to the noise level in the neighborhood.

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Goehring said.

The people living near the campus say more should be done.

“The City Council should put the required pressure on CyrusOne and whoever else is going to be installing their facilities here to make sure they do not disturb neighborhoods,” Thallikar said.

He said the city should tell businesses that use these types of chillers to fix the problem, or stop operating.

“The city is the only entity that has the power to do that, and they should put all required pressure on CyrusOne and Digital Reality and GM to stop using this type of equipment to … torture the neighbors.”

Mayo disputes that, saying that as long as the company is in compliance with zoning laws, there is little the city can do.

“If they are operating in compliance with their zoning, then they are good to go,” Mayo said. “We don’t go and take that away.”

Before ending an interview with a reporter, Thallikar urged a reporter not to shy away from his strong words, specifically pointing out the word ‘torture.’

“I choose my words carefully,” he said.

Data center ‘torture’ for Chandler neighborhood

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