Apple Data Center Coming to Arizona
O (Photo: Apple)

Apple Data Center Coming to Arizona

Company to remodel former GT Advanced factory in Mesa

Apple will spend $2 billion to convert a former 1.3 million square foot manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona, into a data center. The facility will be powered entirely by renewable energy, supplied partially by a new local solar farm, the company said.

State and local officials painted the announcement as a big economic development win for the state. “This is great news for our state, and we worked hard, and we acted rapidly,” Governor Doug Ducey said in a press conference Monday.

Government officials expect the Apple data center to create 300 to 500 construction and trade jobs and 150 permanent Apple jobs. The investment represents a 30-year commitment to Arizona by Apple, Ducey said.

An Apple spokeswoman did not specify how much data center space the facility will hold or what its power capacity will be. She said it will serve as a “command center for our global networks.”

It is also unclear whether the company has received any tax incentive commitments from state or local government. Ducey dodged reporters’ questions about potential incentives for Apple in the news conference.

At least one incentive program did not make any commitments to the company, according Ducey. “Dollars from Arizona Competes Fund are not part of this deal,” he said.

Previous occupant of the property that will soon be an Apple data center in Mesa was GT Advanced Technologies, a company that until recently had a contract to supply Apple with materials for smartphone screens but last year filed for bankruptcy. The two had a legal dispute that ended with court approval of a settlement in December.

Renewable Data Center Promise

Apple owns data centers in Oregon, North Carolina, California, and Nevada. The company also leases space from colocation providers, but the bulk of its data center capacity is in company-owned facilities.

It has publicly committed to powering its data centers entirely with renewable energy. It does it by using a combination of solar and geothermal energy, as well as fuel cells that run on biogas.

Apple data centers surpassed its corporate facilities in energy use in fiscal 2013, consuming more than 300,000 megawatt-hours that year.

Robust Tier II Data Center Market

While not a data center hotbed, Arizona has a fairly robust data center market. Multiple major data center providers have facilities in and around Phoenix. Of the big-name end users that have data centers there is eBay, whose facility in Phoenix is one of the world’s most advanced data centers in terms of design and efficiency.

CyrusOne has built one data center in the Phoenix metro and last May broke ground on a second one. ViaWest launched its first Phoenix data center about one year ago. Other major providers there include Digital Realty Trust and the Phoenix native IO.

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