Smart decisions can help Iowa’s economy grow. That’s the lesson of Facebook’s Altoona data center. The factors that got Facebook’s attention are also drawing Microsoft, Google and Amazon to central Iowa.
Here’s how massive data centers, renewable energy and investments in our local communities create economic growth in Iowa.
Data centers are large groups of networked computers that provide cloud computing services to millions of people worldwide. They require a lot of energy. If you want inexpensive electricity that doesn’t contribute to climate change, Iowa is the place to be.
Iowa’s electricity rates for August 2015 were 10.9 cents per kilowatt for commercial use and 7.0 cents per kilowatt for industrial use. California’s power rates were almost twice as much: 18.1 cents and 13.2 cents respectively.
And almost a third of Iowa’s electricity comes from the wind — a claim no other state can match.
The Altoona data centers are 100 percent wind-powered. The wind farms that support them produce more than enough electricity. Iowa’s overall power grid will become even cleaner as a result.
That’s great for central Iowa. Newton, for example, is the home of TPI Composites and Trinity Structural Towers. Those two firms employ more than 1,100 Iowans who build wind turbines and towers.
What some Iowans build, other Iowans now step forward operate and maintain. Several years ago, we started creating new college degrees for Iowa wind energy workers. Now Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa State and several other Iowa colleges offer Iowans their choice of some of the nation’s best wind maintenance and engineering programs. Their graduates have their pick of good paying jobs.
When it comes to data centers, Iowa offers low cost, clean energy and skilled workers. That combination has produced hundreds of construction jobs, jobs running the data centers and additional jobs for Iowans who maintain and manage the wind farms.
When we work together and invest in our communities, our environment and our young people, Iowa reaps big benefits.