Google Confirms Data Center in Council Buffs, Iowa

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“Google, welcome to Iowa!” With those four words, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver ended months of speculation this morning and confirmed that Google will locate a major data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The $600 million data center will provide 200 jobs for the local economy, and “will have a tremendous impact on Council Bluffs, western Iowa and the entire state,” Culver said.

As always, energy was a key driver in Google’s site location decision. The Council Bluffs location offered a large quantity of renewable energy, fitting Google’s ongoing push for environmentally responsible computing. The local utility, MidAmerican Energy, generates more wind energy than any other utility in the country. MidAmerican officials said they expect that at least 18 percent of the energy consumed by the new Google data center will be generated by wind and other renewable energy sources.

MidAmerican operates 323 wind turbines at three sites in Iowa, providing the capacity to generate 459.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 144,000 homes. The utility recently sought approval to expand its wind generation capacity by another 540 megawatts.

The Council Bluffs project is the fourth major data center announcement this year for Google, which has previously announced data centers in Lenoir, North Carolina in January, Berkeley County in South Carolina in April and Pryor, Oklahoma in May. Each of these projects brings an expected $600 million in expected investment, meaning Google has committed to nearly $2.5 billion in data center constrcution costs through early 2009.


Paul Froutan, a director of hardware operations of Google, said the company “has been evaluating and preparing the site for a while now.” The site includes an existing 100,000 square foot building, with plans for a second building to be added to the site. Google is buying three parcels of land totalling 1,185 acres, providing room for growth well beyond the two data center buildings that are currently planned.

“Right now the plan is to go online in spring 2009,” said Froutan. “We are hiring immediately.” The first round of hiring will be 100 jobs, including openings for Linux sysadmins, technicians, and security, landscaping and food service workers.”

“These quality jobs will play a key role in modernizing our state’s 21st century economy, and will attract some of the smartest and most capable people from around the world to our state, and keep our smartest workers here in Iowa,” said Culver.

Google Inc. will pay an estimated $65 million in property taxes over the next 15 years, the equivalent of the property tax collected annually from 3,771 homeowners, based on the median property taxes paid in Council Bluffs in 2000. Google also will pay an estimated $6 million in sales taxes in just the next 2 years from the purchase of building materials, hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in electricity franchise fees and income, payroll and other taxes when operating the facility.

The Council Bluffs Industrial Foundation, which has been working with the local chamber of commerce to lure a high-tech firm to the city, owns 53 acres of the land, which contains two warehouses, according to the Omaha World-Herald. near South 11th Street. The foundation also has options to buy 125 acres west of Indian Creek to South 24th Street.

The Google site is also near Lake Manawa, a 660-acre natural lake. Google’s recent data center site location efforts have focused on land adjacent to bodies of water that could accommodate the cooling systems for its massive banks of high-density web server installations.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.