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Engine Technology Forum to testify in support of Maryland’s Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act of 2024

The Maryland State House in Annapolis

Maryland’s House and Senate will consider the Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act of 2024 Feb. 22.

 


The legislation, sponsored by Gov. Wes Moore, would remove a regulatory barrier impacting how backup-power systems are classified and considered as part of data-center applications.

 


The Engine Technology Forum supports this legislation and encourages Maryland’s elected officials to do so as well.

 


The forum’s executive director, Allen Schaeffer, will testify at the Feb. 22 hearing in Annapolis to help provide lawmakers with a better understanding of backup generators and the role they play in ensuring continuous electrical-power supply.

 


This testimony comes as the state prepares to welcome more data centers in the near future.

 


Growth in data centers is playing out in local government and planning-commission hearing rooms across the mid-Atlantic and other parts of the country.

 


The United States leads the world in data centers, with more than 5,000 in 2023


 

That number is expected to grow with the boom in artificial intelligence (AI).

 


A key part of data-center design and operation is ensuring continuous electrical power if grid power goes out.

 


In 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the nation’s electricity customers experienced an average of 5.5 hours of power interruptions.

 


“Backup generators are like an insurance policy against the loss of grid electrical power—you hope you never need them but if you do, they are there to support critical operations and protect public health and safety,” Schaeffer said. “While you may not see or hear them, backup diesel generators have serviced hospitals, assisted-living facilities, government facilities, manufacturing businesses, and data centers for decades.”

 


Data centers rely on a steady and uninterrupted supply of electricity, and backup generators are part of the system that helps achieve 99.9 percent uptime.

 


“Diesel technology is the gold standard for emergency backup-power systems because of its reliability, superior response time, electrical-load carrying capacity, delivered power quality, as well as its self-contained fueling,” Schaeffer added.

 


A number of federal, state, and local regulations govern the type of generators, as well as the environmental-related performance and permits for their use.

 


The most advanced diesel generators are equipped with selective catalytic reduction and particulate-matter control systems that minimize emissions impacts from regular testing and exercise of the systems, as well as if they are called into action.

 


The use of renewable diesel fuel is another opportunity to contribute to the overall sustainability of data-center operations.

 


Our highly connected digital world relies increasingly on data centers to store and process a vast amount of information that drives our banking, education, health care, and communications systems, as well as many other networks.

 


The rapid growth of AI will only increase the demand for computing and data centers.

 


“While this legislation streamlines some aspects of the permitting process, it does not alter the environmental aspects of others, ensuring that the units can be properly sited and respectful of local interests,” Schaeffer said.

 


The Engine Technology Forum will provide written testimony as well on both versions of the legislation (SB 0474 and HB 0579).

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