Quincy, WA is a small town (population 6750) in the north-west of the US. So why have technology giants Microsoft, Yahoo!, Dell, Vantage Data Centers, Sabey and Intuit all chosen to build huge data centres there? Quincy is now home to nearly 190 000 square metres (more than two million square feet) of data centre.
The answer is very simple: electrical power.
The town of Quincy is close to the Columbia river, the fourth largest (by volume) river in the US. There are fourteen hydroelectric dams on the Columbia river, two of which, the Priest Rapids Dam and Wanapum Dam, provide electricity to Quincy.
The Priest Rapids Dam
The Wanapum Dam
Hydroelectric power is cheap,* but more importantly from the point of view of data centre operators, it is very reliable. The reliability of the electricity supply to Quincy is better than 99.99% which is very important for “mission-critical” always-on services like cloud computing. Using renewable non-polluting hydroelectric power also helps service providers demonstrate their green credentials. Server farms consume a huge amount of electricity – more for cooling than for processing – and using hydroelectric power helps to reduce their associated carbon footprints.
* The local utility company, Grant County Public Utility District, offered electricity at a discount rate to attract users to the area.