Dark Fiber Challenges Derail Project in Upstate NY
An aerial view of the Yahoo data center in Lockport, N.Y.

Dark Fiber Challenges Derail Project in Upstate NY

Why aren't more companies building data centers in a seemingly ideal location in Upstate New York? Local officials in Lockport, N.Y. say a data center company that spent two years evaluating a site near Yahoo has backed out die to a lack of dark fiber at the site.

An aerial view of the Yahoo data center in Lockport, N.Y.

An aerial view of the Yahoo data center in Lockport, N.Y.

It's not easy being green. At least not for data center providers attracted to the cool breezes and hydroelectric power in upstate New York. The region is home to a Yahoo data center that has been cited by Greenpeace and others for its energy efficiency and sustainable design.

So in an era of increasing scrutiny of data center sustainability, why aren't more companies building in this ideal location? A number of data center projects have scouted sites in the area and opted not to build for a variety of reasons. Prior to Yahoo's arrival, several prospects reportedly experienced challenges with power provisioning. A proposed Verizon project was slowed by legal challenges from area landowners, and later shelved when the company opted to buy Terremark instead of building new space.

In the latest example, local officials in Lockport, N.Y. say a data center company that spent two years evaluating a site near Yahoo has backed out die to a lack of dark fiber at the site. The town's Industrial Development Agency is now considering whether to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to make dark fiber available at the site, citing the need to compete on future deals, according to The Buffalo News.

One question in the mix is whether the cost of extending dark fiber to a site should be borne by the data center operator or the developer or economic development agency. With more states extending tax breaks and other economic incentives to attract data centers, the competitive landscape is shifting. Even as Greenpeace and other groups seek to pressure data center operators to use more renewable energy, that often requires tradeoffs once the larger economics of site location are considered.

So a question for our readers: Can sustainability and data center economics align? If so, what are the areas that offer the best opportunities?

 

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