How The Site of a Former Coal Plant Drew Google to Jackson County
As the use of technology increases, data centers have become ever more important, with businesses and consumers relying on them to provide services—such as networking, data storage and management, backup, and recovery—around the clock. While many businesses rely on existing data centers, some companies choose to build and maintain their own.
In June 2015, Google announced Jackson County as home to a data center—its 14th worldwide and seventh in the United States. Google chose the former site of the Widows Creek coal plant for its $600 million investment on a 320-acre campus. The data center incorporates Google’s most advanced efficiency technologies—ultimately employing between 75 to 100 computer technicians and engineers—as well as various food services, maintenance and security roles. When completed, the data center will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy—completely transforming an old coal-powered plant into a green data center.
Jackson County’s combination of existing energy infrastructure and developable land played a large role in Google’s decision. The Widows Creek coal plant, owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)—the largest public power provider in the U.S.—proved the perfect location for a data center. Google can work from the site’s existing infrastructure, as opposed to building from scratch, further contributing to the site’s mission to be green. Additionally, the available infrastructure offered Google optionality—from water to connectivity.
While energy is typically one of the largest costs of business for data centers, at the Widows Creek coal plant, Google will benefit from low-cost power, as well as plentiful water supplies for cooling and data connections along transmission and existing rail lines at the site.
Beyond its infrastructure and low energy costs, Jackson County is also strategically located, boasting easy access to Chattanooga, Huntsville and Atlanta, allowing Google to source from a local workforce of qualified talent.
“We’re thrilled to have Google in Jackson County,” says Gary Chandler, president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority. “Google’s presence here will bring well-paying highly technical jobs to our community, and continue to be an economic asset in the years to come.”
Google broke ground in April of 2018 and is already investing in the Jackson County community through awarding more than $600,000 to local schools and nonprofits.
Did You Know?
- Once complete, Google’s data center will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
- The project will transform an old coal-powered plant into a green data center.
- Google’s data centers are among the most efficient in the world, using 50 percent less energy than the typical data center.