Google announces plans to build data center in Jackson County

Northeast Alabama

Gov. Bentley announces plans for Google data center in Stevenson (photo from WHNT News 19’s Laura Christmas_

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Governor Robert Bentley joined state and local officials from the Jackson County community and officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority to announce plans for Google to build a $600 million dollar data center in the Stevenson Bridgeport area. Bentley says it will bring 75 to 100 jobs to Jackson County.

It was announced Wednesday that Google has chosen TVA’s Widows Creek, a soon-to-be retired coal plant, to build its newest data center – the 14th across the globe. “We’re really excited to have them. It’s really the first large data center that we have in the state of Alabama,” Governor Bentley says.

“This is a big day for TVA,” Bill Johnson said. “The partnership between the Alabama Department of Commerce, Jackson County Economic Development Authority, and TVA helped secure an innovative, global technology company to the Valley.”

The coal plant, which started operation in 1952, will be in operation for a few more months, a TVA spokesperson said. “This facility has served TVA well since it started operating in 1952; so the decision to close Widows Creek was not easy, and is especially hard on our employees and their families. We are thankful for this exciting new opportunity for jobs in northern Alabama,” Johnson said.

Google will invest $600 million in this project and will bring approximately 100 jobs to northern Alabama, using part of the coal plant site.

Google released details about the data center on it’s official blog saying:

“Every time you check your Gmail, search on Google for a nearby restaurant, or watch a YouTube video, a server whirs to life in one of our data centers. Data centers are the engines of the Internet, bringing the power of the web to millions of people around the world. And as millions more people come online, our data centers are growing, too.

We’ve recently expanded our data centers in Iowa, Georgia, Singapore and Belgium. And today we’re announcing a new data center in Alabama—our 14th site globally.

This time, we’re doing something we’ve never done before: we’ll be building on the grounds of the Widows Creek coal power plant in Jackson County, which has been scheduled for shutdown. Data centers need a lot of infrastructure to run 24/7, and there’s a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal power plants. Decades of investment shouldn’t go to waste just because a site has closed; we can repurpose existing electric and other infrastructure to make sure our data centers are reliably serving our users around the world.

At Widows Creek, we can use the plants’ many electric transmission lines to bring in lots of renewable energy to power our new data center. Thanks to an arrangement with Tennessee Valley Authority, our electric utility, we’ll be able to scout new renewable energy projects and work with TVA to bring the power onto their electrical grid. Ultimately, this contributes to our goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy.

In 2010, we were one of the first companies outside of the utility industry to buy large amounts of renewable energy. Since then, we’ve become the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser in the world (in fact we’ve bought the equivalent of over 1.5 percent of the installed wind power capacity in the U.S.). We’re glad to see this trend is catching on among other companies.

Of course, the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use. Our Alabama data center will incorporate our state-of-the-art energy efficiency technologies. We’ve built our own super-efficient servers, invented more efficient ways to cool our data centers, and even used advanced machine learning to squeeze more out of every watt of power we consume. Compared to five years ago, we now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of energy.

Since the 1960s, Widows Creek has generated power for the region—now the site will be used to power Internet services and bring information to people around the world. We expect to begin construction early next year and look forward to bringing a Google data center to Alabama.”

Governor Bentley says officials have been working on this deal for months and he’s extremely happy with the company’s presence in Alabama. The governor praised TVA for its help in facilitating this deal.

During the announcement, Bentley announced Google’s decision to build a data center in Jackson County is the beginning of a long-lasting partnership. “For rural Alabama like Jackson County, this is going to be a significant investment for this part of the state. We’re very excited about it,” Governor Bentley says.

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