Thursday, November 11, 2010

Facebook Friends Carolina Climate;
Building Data Center in "Isothermal" Area

An AP story, posted at, reports that Facebook has picked North Carolina for its second dedicated data center. The site is located near Forest City in Rutherford County, which is in the western portion of the state near the South Carolina border.

One of the factors cited in the choice of location is "relatively inexpensive power", although the NYT Bits blog notes that "about half of the electricity in Forest City, North Carolina, is coal-generated, in line with the national average." On the other hand, the Prineville, Oregon site of Facebook's first data center has been criticized because the local utility there generates its electricity mainly from coal.

Another factor reported in the AP/WSJ article is the climate, since "extremes of cold and heat are a challenge for facilities with huge amounts of sensitive electronic equipment." Isothermal Community College, in nearby Spindale, was in fact named for the moderate "thermal belt" in the region. Interestingly, the current Weather Underground forecast for Rutherfordton, the county seat, shows a variation of only 5° in the high temperatures for the next 5 days. However, the daily record highs and lows for Rutherford County-Marchman Airport (KFQD) show maximums over 100° in August and minimums below 10° in January.

A more likely explanation for picking this location is the business climate, in the form of considerable tax breaks and government incentives. The NYT's Bits reports that "Facebook will receive approximately $17 million in local subsidies and tax breaks over 10 years" and "will also be exempt from paying state taxes on all equipment, electricity and construction materials for the data centers."

More from Information Week:
Facebook 'Friends' North Carolina With Data Center

Image (click to enlarge): Campus sign from Isothermal Community College; Daily record high and low temperatures at Rutherfordton, NC from Weather Underground

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