Google announced plans today to build a $600 million data center in northeast Alabama’s Jackson County, creating up to 100 jobs at a state-of-the-art facility designed for efficiency and powered by renewable energy.
The data center will act as a hub for Internet traffic, operating in a network that keeps the Google search engine and company products such as Gmail and YouTube up and running for global users 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The project was announced this afternoon at a press conference at the Widows Creek Power Plant on the banks of the Tennessee River in Jackson County, where the data center will be constructed.
Google will build the new data center on 350 acres of land owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) at Widows Creek, which is being shut down as part of a process that began in 2012.
“For more than 50 years, the Widows Creek plant has generated electricity for the region. Now the site will be used to bring Internet services and information to people around the world — powered by 100 percent renewable energy,” said Gary Demasi, director of Global Infrastructure at Google. “We see a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal plants, and we’re excited to bring a data center to Alabama.”
Governor Robert Bentley, who spoke at today’s press conference, said Google’s decision to locate its newest data center in Alabama underscores the advantages the state can offer high-tech companies.
“Google is one of the world’s most innovative companies that just about every Alabamian interacts with daily,” Governor Bentley said. “Google’s decision to build a data center in Alabama is the start of a long-lasting state partnership that will provide a significant boost to our state’s high-tech sector, provide good jobs for our citizens and position the state for additional growth in this important industry.
“I appreciate Google’s significant investment in Alabama, and I am pleased to welcome them to Sweet Home Alabama,” he said.
POWERED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY
Google will use the site’s many electric transmission lines to bring in renewable energy to power the data center. The company will find new renewable energy projects and work with TVA to bring the power onto the authority’s electrical grid.
“Economic development is a vital part of TVA’s mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. TVA is committed to a diverse energy portfolio and providing reliable, low-cost and ever-cleaner energy to attract new companies and investments to the region,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson.
“Google could have located their next data center anywhere in the world, but they chose a soon-to-be retired coal plant site with the right infrastructure in rural Alabama,” Johnson added. “What began as a power generation facility will now become a data center harnessing the power of the Internet to connect people all over the world.”
In addition, the data center will incorporate Google’s most advanced efficiency technologies, which today allow the company to get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of energy, as compared to just five years ago.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said data centers produce many positive economic benefits, including well-paying jobs with highly technical skill sets, a supplier support system, and possible infrastructure upgrades.
“Google has established itself as the world leader in efficient data center technology,” Secretary Canfield said. “With the growing reliance on cloud computing projected to continue boosting the growth of data center operations, we think our relationship with Google will yield other opportunities in the future.”
He added that the project is the first recruited under Alabama’s specialized data center incentives, passed in 2012, and the Alabama Jobs Act, an overhaul of the state’s economic development incentives platform passed this year.
Dus Rogers, president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority, said he expects Google to be a great civic partner throughout the region because of its strong track record of supporting education, career development and other local causes.
“Having Google set up shop in our backyard will not only benefit Jackson County but also the entire region because we can say that one of the world’s best-known brands decided to be our partner,” Rogers said.
Google said the Alabama data center will be its 14th globally and its first new U.S. location since 2007. It recently expanded its data center sites in Georgia, Iowa, Singapore and Belgium.