Apple & Facebook in Prineville: Mega Data Centers Transform a Town

We have covered the aspects of the Apple and Facebook data centers in Prineville, Oregon in previous posts. An August 2017 article in Outside magazine reports on the impact of these operations on the small town and offers some Green ICT insights along the way.

The article says that the data centers transformed "... the timber town into a recreational hub of mountain bikers and craft brewers" but that some residents are "..also worried that Apple and Facebook might bring in more Democrats and 'California laws...." It makes for interesting reading.

The article also reports on some Green ICT topics.

"The air was pleasant, thanks to great fans sucking Prineville’s dry, temperate air from the outside through watered membranes. The effect is something like a massive swamp cooler. This is where Facebook uses the majority of its water—18 million gallons per year. (Apple’s Prineville center, for its part, used 29 million gallons last year.) Forty percent of that evaporates in cooling; the rest is recirculated or discharged. In winter and on most nights, no cooling is required. "

"Lately, tech companies have also been spurring development in renewable energy. Apple, Facebook, and other big outfits got some dismal reviews in a Greenpeace report five years ago [link added], but many now negotiate access to renewables as a condition for moving into an area. Apple did just that when coming to Prineville, securing local wind energy at a long-term fixed rate and financing its own micro-hydro sites on an irrigation canal off the Crooked River. I toured Apple’s facilities in November...Apple wouldn’t allow me to quote anything said during our tour. But the sites were impressive, a series of small turbines set off the main channel of the Crooked. Together they provide about 5 percent of the data center’s electricity. The rest comes from wind and a forthcoming solar farm the company paid for. "

(Hydroworld previously reported that Apple had acquired a Crooked River hydropower facility in 2014.)

"Facebook still runs its Prineville facility off Pacific Power’s coal-dominated mix, using enough energy to power 26,000 homes. But it has committed to running all its future data centers off renewables and has actively pushed utilities away from fossil fuels, for example, in Nebraska."