O’Connell Electric has had a fairly constant presence at the Greenidge power generating plant in Dresden, NY for many years. Due to the strong working relationship between the customer and OCE, when a unique project was presented to Greenidge, they called on us for assistance.

A cryptocurrency investment group was in search of a facility that could house and supply power to thousands of cryptocurrency mining devices for a chance to have a larger share of the market.

>> Enter Greenidge Generation and their facility

>> Enter O’Connell Electric.

The server farm comes as part of an extensive $65 million renovation of the power plant, which includes transforming the plant from coal to natural gas as well as investing in the electrical infrastructure needed to power the mining rigs. This particular project evolved to utilize services from the Power Group, Communications Division and Construction Services Group, and created a combined workforce of nearly 40 IBEW members. Power was one factor that was not an issue for the project. Fortunately, Greenidge had plenty of indoor available space as well. Time was the issue. Miners are useless unless they are operational. The miners, with an estimated value around $2,000 each, were already in hand. The original plan was to install them in customized cargo containers placed outside of the generating plant. After three units were installed it was discovered that the noise produced by the miners while in operation far exceeded the allowable decibel level governed for the area.

>> Time for a plan B.

After a new power distribution plan was approved, purchasing the necessary equipment, including the major gear components for the medium voltage system, caused a major delay.

Comprised of nearly 7,000 rigs and powered by electricity generated on-site, the facility can mine an average of 5.5 bitcoins every day, roughly $50,000.

Once the equipment was ordered the team went to work figuring out how to expedite installation of the electrical system, install the main gear on one of the many staggered levels of the generation plant to the distribution center located 250 feet away on another level, and then have the power delivered to seven different smaller sub units scattered back up on the same floor as the main gear.

The Construction Services Group was asked to assist in designing a path and raceway system to connect the medium voltage 15kVA equipment prior to being delivered.

While a few members of Construction Services were walking the site with the customer, Project Manager and General Foreman, the idea of using OCE’s new 3-D scanner was discussed as the ideal situation in which to use the device. The customer agreed that due to the configuration of the generating plant, scanning would be the best option to accurately measure, plan and install the entire system.

In four hours, approximately 69 scans were taken of the facility to provide 1.5 billion measurement points, encompassing the areas required in the installation of the entire system.

The scans created a real-life 3D model (Point Cloud). Information for the 15kV equipment was provided in a two-dimensional format that the design team converted into 3D models. These models were placed in the point cloud to   illustrate an actual installation. The design team then took the models and created a series of drawings to detail the installation plan, and also created a complete bill of materials for the installation. The cloud model also helped identify possible installation obstacles, which were addressed on the plan, as opposed to being discovered on site, saving time and money.

With the design work completed and accepted, along with the conduit and cable tray raceway ordered per the model, the preliminary work for the installation of the tray could begin. All floor penetrations and existing obstacles were addressed as the material was arriving to the site.

As the 30-inch cable tray was being installed new information regarding the equipment being supplied by the 2,000-amp distribution center began to surface and caused a change in the initial installation. It was decided the distribution center should be fed from the side of the gear, rather than the bottom, changing the vertical portion of the cable tray to conduit and fabricated enclosures. The change required design assistance to be accomplished over the phone. This was all achieved because the scans previously taken were re-opened on the computer and a new layout and bill of materials was established. A new plan was printed and provided to the crew installing the work.

The server farm currently consumes 14 of the 106 megawatts of Greenidge’s capacity, enough electricity to power well over 11,000 average U.S. homes.

A second visit from Construction Services to the project was requested by the General Foreman to discuss the raceway plans of the distribution center to the seven 3,000kVA, 415/240V “mini substations”. These mini subs are the source that feeds the Miners. After a few additional scans of this area were brought back to the office and added to the original scans, an installation plan was developed and sent back to the job site with another bill of materials, including designing another custom enclosure needed for the installation. All of this was turned over by noon the next day.

All raceway work was completed by the time the gear finally arrived to the project.

The mini subs placement within the facility went through a few revisions until the final layout plans took effect. Upon acceptance, all seven subs and raceways were installed, and had 15kV, 1/0 feeders installed, tested and terminated.

Sound like a lot of work? Just another day for O’Connell Electric. Our team’s success at Greenidge is a great example of multi-group, multi-division collaboration.