Caleb Tennis Fuel Delivery Contracts Are Worthless

January 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

One thing that many data centers will tout is how they have fuel delivery contracts in place so that they can get replacement fuel for their generators within a certain window – for example, 4 hours.

On the front end this sounds good, but there are some hidden factors here that are not so obvious. Fuel meter

First, we need to analyze just how long the generators can run without refueling.  This is of course dependent on the data center load, fuel tank size, and other factors.  However, at a bare minimum there should be at least 24 hours of fuel available, and 48-96 hours would be even better.  Thus, a 4 hour contract doesn’t really matter as much if that much fuel is available.

But, let’s go a step further.  In general, almost anyone can get a fuel truck delivered within a 4 hour window (unless it’s the middle of the night or a holiday).  This covers 99.9% of the scenarios in which a truck is needed.  It’s that 0.1% that we’re trying to buy some insurance on, hence the “4-hour contract”.  In that 0.1%, the most likely scenario is a more widespread power outage – say from a snowstorm or earthquake or something more catastrophic.  In that case, it’s extremely likely that the “4-hour contract” will not be honored – hospitals, government entities, and others higher on the food chain will get that fuel first, regardless of any contract in place.

Hence: we think “4-hour fuel delivery contract” is worthless.

A smarter solution? How about storing your backup fuel onsite?  Data Cave’s reserve fuel supply is a 60,000-80,000 gallon fuel farm, which is enough to power the entire facility at full load for approximately 2-3 weeks without needing to rely on a truck or a “4-hour contract”.  The reserve fuel is already here and on-site, not waiting for a delivery that may or may not happen.

It’s important to know what external vendors your data center relies upon, so be sure to ask those details.  And contact us if you would like to learn more about our robust facility and operational components.


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