Google has chosen Tennessee Valley Authority’s Widows Creek soon-to-be retired coal plant site in North Alabama to build its newest data center — the 14th across the globe. Joining TVA’s President and CEO Bill Johnson and TVA Chairman Joe Ritch in the announcement were Robert Bentley, Governor of Alabama, local and state officials and Gary Demasi, Google Director of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy.
“This is a big day for TVA,” Bill Johnson said. “The partnership between the Alabama Department of Commerce, Jackson County Economic Development Authority, and TVA helped secure an innovative, global technology company to the Valley.”
TVA’s board of directors approved the closure of Widows Creek earlier this year following EPA’s release of coal combustion rules requiring additional environmental and financial requirements.
“The coal plant will be in operation for a few more months and we appreciate the hard-working employees who remain dedicated to generating electricity safely at Widows Creek,” Johnson said. “This facility has served TVA well since it started operating in 1952; so the decision to close Widows Creek was not easy, and is especially hard on our employees and their families. We are thankful for this exciting new opportunity for jobs in northern Alabama.
“Google could have located their next data center anywhere in the world, but they chose this site. 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,” he added.
“Selecting the Widows Creek site to build our newest data center came after an extensive search,” said Gary Demasi, Director of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy for Google. “The idea of repurposing a former coal generating site and powering our new facility with renewable energy – especially reliable, affordable energy that we can count on 24/7 with the existing infrastructure in place – was attractive.”
TVA’s transmission system ranks in the top 10 percent of U.S. utilities and has achieved 99.999 percent reliability every year since 2000, surpassing Tier IV data center standards. TVA currently has 23 primary data center sites available across its seven-state service area.
Google will invest $600 million in this project and will bring quality jobs to northern Alabama and the TVA region.
As TVA continues to develop a cleaner, more diverse energy portfolio, it is reviewing the future of the land and physical structures associated with the retired coal-fired plant units. It will lead the energy industry in working to repurpose former generating sites for economic development opportunities that bring needed revenue into communities and improve lives of people in the Valley.
TVA is the largest public power provider in the United States and serves 17 municipal power companies and eight co-ops in North Alabama. Together, they provide power for more than 485,000 households and nearly 97,000 commercial and industrial customers. TVA also directly serves large Alabama industrial customers and government facilities. Google will bring the total of direct-served customers to 12
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.