Google Buys Former Gatorade Plant Near Oklahoma Data Center

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A long row of server-packed racks insid ethe Google data center in Pryor, Oklahoma. Google has purchased a nearby building that could expand its presence in Oklahoma. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)

Google has purchased a massive former Gatorade plant in Pryor, Oklahoma for potential use as a data center. The 1.4 million square foot facility is one of the largest facilities Google has acquired, and although the company has no immediate plans to develop the site, it could provide space for an enormous expansion of Google’s server capacity at its Oklahoma site.

The Gatorade plant was shuttered in 2010 by PepsiCo, which  owns Gatorade. The huge building is just down the street from Google’s existing data center within the Mid-America Industrial Park in Pryor. The building was owned by the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority, which held a special meeting last week to convey the property to PepsiCo, which then sold it to Google.

“The purchase of the idled facility across from our data center is a logical choice given our ongoing partnership with the MidAmerica Industrial Park,” said Mike Wooten, Google Oklahoma data center operations manager, in a statement to the Tulsa World. “MidAmerica continues to be a strong partner for us here in Oklahoma and we appreciate their proactive and pro-business approach.”

Bulking Up On Wind Power

Google also took steps last week to procure more renewable energy to support growth in its Oklahoma site. On Sept. 17 Google said it is buying the entire 240-megawatt output of the Happy Hereford wind farm in Amarillo, Texas. The wind farm will provide energy for the Southwest Power Pool, the regional grid that serves Google’s Oklahoma data center.

Google can’t directly use the wind power generated in Amarillo in the data center in Pryor. But the power purchase offsets the impact of the Google data center on the local power grid – effectively substituting a megawatt of renewable energy for each megawatt Google draws from the grid to power its data center.

What’s significant about Google’s latest power purchase agreement (PPA) is the scale of the deal. In 2011 Google purchased 100 megawatts of wind power from a facility in Minco, Oklahoma. With the Happy Hereford purchase, Google will be buying 340 megawatts of renewable energy for the grid supporting its Oklahoma data center operations. The company doesn’t disclose its power usage in specific locations, but the new PPA is clearly designed for expansion capacity, suggesting that we may see construction activity at the Gatorade site before long.

Expoansion Also Possible in Oregon

Google is also laying the groundwork for additional expansion at its campus in The Dalles, Oregon. Last week Google reached agreement with local officials on a package of tax breaks that could clear the way for a $200 million expansion at The Dalles. The company has filed plans with local officials to build a 164,000 square foot data center on its 37-acre property in The Dalles nestled alongside the Columbia River. Google built two single-story data centers at the site in 2007, which were refurbished last year with a “rip and replace” upgrade of its power infrastructure to support additional equipment.

Google hasn’t made a final decision yet on the expansion, but has submitted plans with The Dalles’ planning commission to build a third data center on an open parcel of land between the two existing buildings. The new building would feature a two-story design.

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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