Microsoft is expanding its data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, investing more than $200 million, with some estimates going as high as $250 million. The expansion was announced in a news conference by Governor Matt Mead. The project is expected to take up to two years.
The expansion in Laramie County will boost Microsoft’s cloud computing capacity, according to local business development officials. It will bring Microsoft’s total investment in the site to $750 million, will double permanent jobs to 50, and employ several hundred people during construction work.
Wyoming officials are excited because of what the Microsoft data center expansion means beyond direct jobs. Big data center projects attract and spur technology ecosystems.
The Wyoming Business Council and state officials approved a $5 million grant for Microsoft. The grant will pay for supporting infrastructure like water towers and sewer linest.
Besides the big production data center, Cheyenne is home to some of Microsoft’s most forward-thinking data center activity. The company launched an experimental zero-carbon, biogas-powered data center there in 2014,which uses fuel cells to convert gas that is a byproduct of waste treatment into energy. It serves as a research center for biogas and fuel cell technology, two alternatives to drawing from the power grid.
Microsoft has made significant data center investment in the state, with another $274 million expansion announced in April of lastg year. The company’s investment in Wyoming has put the state on the data center map.
Meade expressed interest at the conference in attracting more technology business to Wyoming.
The Microsoft data center expansion is expected to add 120 acres to the North Range Business Park. The new data center will sit on the west edge, adjacent to Microsoft’s existing infrastructure.
Microsoft and other technology giants have been making big investments in alternative energy sources.
The most recent examples of renewable energy deals include Apple’s 130-megawatt solar deal in California, and Amazon Web Services’150-megawatt wind power purchase agreement in Indiana.
Some data center providers have also made steps to clean up their energy mix. Interxion recently discussed the colocation provider's role in renewable energy with Data Center Knowledge. Wholesale provider Digital Realty announced it would buy renewable energy credits for new customers anywhere around the world to make their energy consumption 100 percent carbon-neutral for one year free of charge.
Green House Data, also in Wyoming, recently conducted a survey, however, that found that, while respondents generally agreed that operational cost savings that come with having a green data center make business sense, most IT department’s don’t really look at energy efficiency or sustainability when comparing different data center service providers.