Verizon Outlines Plans for Huge NY Data Center

Verizon is moving ahead with plans to build a mammoth data center campus in Somerset, N.Y. on the shores of Lake Ontario. The company outlined plans to spend $500 million to build 900,000 square feet of data center space, which it will fill with up to $3.4 billion worth of equipment over the 20-year life of the facility. Combined with land, utilities and other costs, the project represents a total investment of about $4.5 billion, according to the Buffalo News.

Verizon hasn’t yet confirmed that it will build in Somerset, saying that it has also looked at properties in other states. But the company offered more details on the project this week as it appeared before Somerset zoning officials and applied for tax breaks from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA). Verizon sent a dozen officials to the planning meeting, according to the Lockport Union-Sun.

Three Huge Data Center Buildings
Verizon envisions building three two-story data centers on the 17-acre property, each with about 300,000 square feet of space. The land is owned by AES. The telecommunications company is seeking tax incentives in the form of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) arrangement, which could add up to savings of $330 million over the life of the agreement. Verizon is also seeking grants from the Empire State Development Corp.

The region offers several advantages to data center operators, including the ability to use fresh-air cooling (free cooling) virtually year round, along with the availability of hydro-electric power from the Niagara River. he Somerset site is approximately 20 miles from Lockport, N.Y., where Yahoo is nearing completion on the first phase of its newest data center, which employs an energy-efficient design known as the Yahoo Computing Coop.

Power Provisioning
A key issue will be the availability of hydro-electric power from the New York Power Authority. The NYPA is providing Yahoo with 15 megawatts of power for its 180,000 square foot data center in Lockport. The scope of Verizon’s proposal clearly suggests a larger power requirement. The projected construction cost of $500 million, combined with typical construction cost of about $9 million to $10 million a megawatt for efficient data center builders, suggests that Verizon may need in the neighborhood of 50 megawatts or more of power for the entire project.

However, that capacity could be delivered in phases as the data center is built. The NYPA structured its deal with Yahoo in two stages, with a first phase of 10 megawatts and then an additional 5 megawatts. Verizon’s tax submissions to the NCIDA describe a three-phase investment in data center equipment, with phases staged in 2011, 2015 and 1016.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large 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.

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  1. Amny V

    Any thoughts on the location decision of Somerset? What customers they are going to pull into a massive 900K of space? EQIX can't be pleased that they have another competitor in town after the previous weeks events!

  2. I am originally from this area (my parents live about 20 miles from Somerset), but I'm also familiar with Verizon and their future goals in the cloud computing space. Perhaps they will be using this to build out their business services, i.e. "XaaS" portfolio?!

  3. Lockport is a great location, but Verizon and other data center owners may want to consider looking further North...Massena, New York, right on the St. Lawrence River and a stone's throw from the Robert Moses Power Dam. Empty land is plentiful and can be had for an average of $1,000/acre, and it's colder for longer in the year than Lockport. Besides, since General Motors pulled out and Alcoa has reduced their operations, I'm sure any data center owner will be able to cut a deal on the amount of hydropower needed for their projects. There are approximately 50 million people within a 500-mile radius of Massena...who could ask for a more central location for a data center? Since no one has heard of the place, it'll be secure. Since NY State is trying to reduce the number of prisons in that area, there will be plenty of prison guards looking for a new line of work. I'm only suggesting Massena since it's my hometown. I don't live there anymore and moved my life to the West Coast almost 20 years ago, but I'm still somewhat fond of the place. When I do go back, I find it quite depressing since there are no jobs. Data centers would be a great way to reinvigorate that entire economy.