In 2010, Facebook broke ground on a new data center in Forest City, North Carolina. It's about an hour and a half west of Charlotte, and you may be asking yourself, why did Facebook choose that spot for one of its biggest facilities? Here are eight reasons why that company, and others, chose North Carolina:
- Data centers use a lot of electricity, and the foothills of North Carolina have a lot left over. Unfortunately, we did have a lot of textile companies that went offshore, says Keven McCammon, who manages Facebook s data center in Forest City. As a result of that, that produced a lot of excess power on the grid. That means Facebook, as well as Apple, Google and Disney's data centers, are all using the electricity that used to go to factories. So how much power? In a Duke Energy business recruitment paper from years ago, an executive said a data center is: The type of customer where the meter spins and spins at an exponential pace. It may be the most ideal customer we could have. Facebook won't say exactly how much power it uses, but it does say it's made it new data centers more efficient. If there's a way to use less power, we'll do it, says McCammon.
- The power's cheap because most of it comes from coal and nuclear. Greenpeace, as you'd imagine, hates that.
- Data centers like Apple and Google got millions in state incentives and tax breaks.
- The data centers are within two hours of Charlotte's airport, making it convenient for out of town employees to fly in.
- They're close to the east coast and a major internet pipeline that runs along Interstate 85, which means they can handle online traffic more quickly.
- The land is cheap.
- The weather's relatively nice. We don't like severe weather, says McCammon. We like calm weather.
- Data centers tend to cluster near other data centers, a snowball effect that could make the foothills of North Carolina into one of the internet's busiest places.
One thing data centers don't do is create a lot of permanent jobs. About 80 people work full-time at Facebook's data center, although some of them did get their training a few miles away at Isothermal Community College in Spindale.