Jim Glanz at the New York Times has produced a third article on utility-scale data centers for the paper, this time focusing on the colocation market and the legalities of how leases are written in the industry.
While I spoke at length with Jim for the article, I was not quoted in the piece, so you'll have to go to Data Center Knowledge for my "official" reaction.
The points I make there include the recognition that colos that in any way charge directly for measured power use are likely in violation of utility commission regulations and utility tariffs. In California for example, Rule 18 specifically prohibits power resale, with just one exception that was added a few years back for high rise multi-tenant office buildings.
And yet, even before the move by the industry to install DCIM packages with energy metering and monitoring capabilities, it was widely known that colos often charge for directly metered energy use, and usually with some agreed-to "adder" to account for cooling and power delivery and conditioning energy use.
(In other cases tenants pay for a prescribed amount of energy capacity in their cage, which is copacetic with regulators. You can charge $XXX per amp or kW of capacity, but not $0.XX per metered kWh, and certainly not with a markup.)
My other line of commentary noted that colo tenants may begin asking for information and utility sourcing flexibility that owners may not yet be ready to provide.
Let's say my company gets truly serious about carbon reporting and mitigation, and wants to know the carbon content of the power delivered to their colos space...and whether they can pay a premium to buy more wind power in the portfolio. I doubt many retail colos are prepared to manage those issues, though it should be fairly simple for the wholesale colo market.
In summary I think that the NYT article is correct to point out that many colos are operating in a regulatory gray area, and that more light is likely to shine on the "resale" of power and how that is accounted for and managed.
For utilities, "hiding" behind the regulations (the primary intent for the ban on resale is to avoid conflicts with customers of record and lessees, after all) will not pass muster in the long run. There are too many actors playing around the edges, like colos, and it would be a far better thing to address these issues forthrightly, with solutions that satisfy customers of all types.