June 19, 2007 / 8:50 PM / 12 years ago

Google to build $600 million data center in Iowa

An internet surfer views the Google home page at a cafe in London in this August 13, 2004 file photo. Google Inc. plans to spend $600 million to build a data center in western Iowa, the latest site in a massive network of server farms holding the hundreds of thousands of computers which run its Web services. REUTERS/Stephen Hird/Files

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Google Inc. plans to spend $600 million to build a data center in western Iowa, the latest site in a massive network of server farms holding the hundreds of thousands of computers which run its Web services.

Construction of the new data center in Council Bluffs has started and Google plans to start operations by spring of 2009, Iowa Governor Chet Culver announced in a news release. Google said the region is a busy crossroads of Internet activity.

The western Iowa facility, which sits on nearly 1,200 acres of land, with room for expansion, will employ about 200 workers whose responsibility will be to keep the facility running 24 hours a day.

Google declined to offer specific details about its network of data centers, but said it has “dozens” of facilities around the world, including recently announced projects in Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Data centers, also known as server farms, are nondescript buildings filled with row upon row of computer servers, data storage and network systems. They provide the infrastructure to power a variety of Web services, ranging from online video to hosted e-mail to Internet search.

Google and other Web heavyweights like Microsoft Corp. are capitalizing on the declining cost of computing power and data storage to build enormous data centers in areas with cheap electricity. These companies see data centers as a competitive way to differentiate from smaller Internet service providers that can’t afford to make the heavy up-front investments in infrastructure.

MidAmerican Energy Co., which will supply the electricity to the facility, would not say how much electricity the data center will consume, citing a confidentiality agreement with Google.

The energy company recently completed the expansion of its coal-fired plant in Council Bluffs, which can produce over 1,300 megawatts.

Separately, Google told a news conference in Paris that the Mountain View, California-based company aims to cut or offset all of its greenhouse emissions by the end of the year. It is the latest in a string of corporations seeking to cutback emissions gases that scientists link to global warming.

Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in New York

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