Google to make $600M investment in Widows Creek steam plant

Widows Creek Power Plant
Widows Creek Power Plant [Photo via Google]

Gov. Robert Bentley joined other state officials, local officials from the Jackson County community and officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to announce that Google will make an initial $600 million investment to create a data center on the grounds of TVA’s Widows Creek Steam Plant in north Jackson County.

On its website Google noted that the location would be its 14th. Recent additions include data centers in IowaGeorgiaSingapore and Belgium.

In a prepared statement Google said, “This time, we’re doing something we’ve never done before: We’ll be building on the grounds of the Widows Creek coal power plant in Jackson County, which has been scheduled for shutdown. Data centers need a lot of infrastructure to run 24/7, and there’s a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal power plants. Decades of investment shouldn’t go to waste just because a site has closed; we can repurpose existing electric and other infrastructure to make sure our data centers are reliably serving our users around the world.”

They went on to describe, “Of course, the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use. Our Alabama data center will incorporate our state-of-the-art energy efficiency technologies. We’ve built our own super-efficient servers, invented more efficient ways to cool our data centers, and even used advanced machine learning to squeeze more out of every watt of power we consume. Compared to five years ago, we now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of energy.”

In a prepared statement released Wednesday afternoon, Governor Bentley said, “Google is one of the world’s most innovative companies that just about every Alabamian interacts with daily. Google’s decision to expand its data center network to Alabama is the start of a long-lasting state partnership that will provide a significant boost to our state’s high-tech sector, provide good jobs for our citizens and position the state for additional growth in this important industry.”

Bentley welcomed the media giant to the state saying, “I appreciate Google’s significant investment in Alabama, and I am pleased to welcome them to Sweet Home Alabama.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby also issued a prepared statement saying, “Google’s announcement that it will open a data center in Jackson County is positive news for Alabama and proves that our state is a great place for companies of all sizes to do business. I am delighted that Google has chosen Alabama as the home to this investment, and I look forward to the jobs and economic growth that it will bring.”

Bill Johnson the President and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority said, “Economic development is a vital part of TVA’s mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. TVA is committed to a diverse energy portfolio and providing reliable, low-cost and ever-cleaner energy to attract new companies and investments to the region.”

“Google could have located their next data center anywhere in the world, but they chose a soon-to-be retired coal plant site with the right infrastructure in rural Alabama,” Johnson said. “What began as a power generation facility will now become a data center harnessing the power of the Internet to connect people all over the world.”

According to the governor’s office projections, Google will make an estimated $600 million initial investment, with opportunities for expansion. The initial project is expected to create 75 to 100 jobs.

Last year, Google passed over Alabama for one of its high-speed fiber-optic network cities.


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