CHANDLER, AZ — The Valley is quickly becoming a hub for data centers, which houses computer and network infrastructure.
The centers eat energy, can use millions of gallons of water, and are often accused of creating a humming noise that travels indiscriminately through adjacent neighborhoods.
“It is a loud hum. It’s 24/7 and it’s very irritating because it never goes away,” said Karthic Thallikar a resident of the Britney Heights subdivision which is next door to the Cyrus One Data Center.
Cyrus One is a giant facility. It requires constant power and constant cooling and, as it turns out, it never shuts up.
“It enters our rooms, our bedrooms, our living rooms, our backyards, and front yards all year long,” Mr. Thallikar said.
In the early 2000’s, when the city of Chandler began actively pursuing technology companies, data centers seem like a good fit.
Not so today.
“There’s a better opportunity for us,” says Chandler Vice Mayor Mark Stewart. “We are courting companies internationally from all types of tech industries as well as financial services. We want to target job creators and we want to target companies that will support Intel and Northrop Grumman.”
Chandler is now re-thinking its desire to be a future home for data centers. Currently, there are five sites zoned for data centers.
They are located along Price Road between Germann Road and Mockingbird Drive in South Chandler. Three are up and running. Two more are expected to be built.
“The data centers that are there now will remain and anything that’s zoned for data centers in the past will remain. We can’t change that,” Stewart said. But in the spring, the city council will consider a proposed code amendment prohibiting developers from building data centers anywhere else in the city. “10-15 years ago data centers made sense for Chandler. Today they don’t,” Stewart said.
The city also plans to require the companies who plan to build the two remaining data centers to take additional steps to ensure noise pollution from the sites is greatly reduced. That will include sound mitigation testing before and after construction.
The data centers will also need to designate a community liaison who will work with the neighborhoods that might be affected by the noise.
“We can’t go backwards, we can certainly improve and that’s going to be the goal,” Stewart said.
Karthic Thallikar, who can remember the days before the arrival of the Cyrus One data center, hopes that happens.
“It was very quiet. A nice neighborhood until this thing showed up,” Thallikar said. “If the noise goes away, from my standpoint, then it will be livable.”