KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee Valley Authority economic development program has identified a dozen sites in the Southeast as prime locations for developing the region’s growing data center industry.
Data centers are specially designed to house computer, telecommunication and data-storage systems for Internet search engine companies, financial transaction processors and other high-tech industries.
The initial sites identified in the TVA survey are in: Athens, Tenn.; Bristol, Tenn.; Duffield, Va.; Fayetteville, Tenn.; Guntersville, Ala.; Hartselle, Ala.; Jackson, Tenn.; Lenoir City, Tenn.; Maryville, Tenn.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Olive Branch, Miss.; and Tullahoma, Tenn.
“Demand for data centers is growing as increased use of electronic commerce and information technologies requires more data storage space,” said John Bradley, senior vice president for TVA Economic Development. “There are exceptional opportunities for regional growth potential in this industry. These 12 sites in particular have the resources, infrastructure and other qualities needed to support strong data center development.”
TVA chose Chicago-based Deloitte Consulting to assess more than 50 locations across the TVA service area for accessibility, telecommunications infrastructure, electric power availability and reliability, and other characteristics beneficial to data center development.
"The potential data center sites we've identified in the TVA region possess a strong suite of resources that could be attractive to the industry and beneficial to the region's economic growth,” said Darin Buelow, principal with Deloitte’s Global Expansion Optimization practice.
The 12 sites are considered “primary sites” that are ready for development and meet the requirements to support a major data center. TVA is partnering with local power distributors and regional, state and community economic development leaders to begin marketing the sites as part of its data center recruitment initiative.
Bradley said other sites reviewed during the initial process are working to fulfill the criteria, and he expects more locations will be identified as primary sites after they are assessed a second time.
The TVA board of directors approved rate incentives in December 2008 to attract data centers and similar businesses to the region. Qualifying data centers could be eligible for TVA manufacturing rates if they have a power demand in excess of 5 megawatts and operate at an average of at least 80 percent of this demand.
“Data centers provide highly skilled, good-paying job opportunities,” Bradley said. “TVA’s goal is to help make the region more competitive in attracting and retaining these types of industries and the economic benefits associated with them.” More information about data centers or other TVA economic development programs may be found at TVAed.com or TVAsites.com
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities and supplies up to 33,700 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA’s service territory are below the national average