Data Center Coming To Iowa Could Have Facebook's Name On It
April 22, 2013

Data Center Coming To Iowa Could Have Facebook’s Name On It

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

Rumors have surfaced that Facebook is the company behind "Project Catapult," a data center facility to be built in Iowa. The site for a data center was rumored to be commissioned by a handful of companies including Facebook and Apple, according to CNET.

The cost on the 1.4-million-square-foot site in Altoona, Iowa is reported to be $1.5 billion. However VentureBeat reports that the site will be built in two stages, each costing $500 million. Other data facilities run by Facebook include one in Forest City, NC, another in Prineville, Oregon and a 62,000 square foot space in Lulea, Sweden. If built, the site will be Facebook's fourth company-built project.

Facebook is reportedly seeking tax credits for using clean energy. The appeal to lawmakers is how sources revealed Facebook's venture. The social network plans to use wind energy server farms to offset the large amounts of energy that data centers demand. Reports say that the government has approved the project, though details on tax credits and other incentives remain.

The facility is likely to be comprised of three 466,000 square foot data centers, which was uncovered by Data Center Knowledge. The site calls the rumored Project Catapult "One of the longest-running mysteries in the data center industry."

Iowa is a popular location for data centers. Google hosts a facility in Council Bluffs, and Microsoft has a data center in West Des Moines.

Facebook - or the company behind the still unconfirmed project - has an option on land in Altoona. A plan for the site has been submitted to local officials. The site plan was originally approved last summer with site visits in September and October. In November officials in Altoona were looking to finalize the deal.

Iowa won out for this facility. Reports suggest that locations in Nebraska were also considered. That scouting mission was conducted under the codename "Project Eagle," with Kearney, Nebraska as the frontrunner location.

Facebook is the likely candidate due to similar design plans for its Oregon and North Carolina facilities. Apple was also considered to be the company behind the secret project due to the use of solar arrays and fuel cells that appeared in the plans. That would be in addition to wind energy production, which was reported in the Des Moines Register that a request had been submitted.

The publication said that the project will be "the most technologically advanced data center in the world," according to two lawmakers who spoke to the paper. The story also reports that Facebook's request for Iowa tax credits for wind energy will require legislative action.

If this facility does get under way, it will supply jobs to the Altoona, Iowa area for construction, maintenance and administration for the site. No information was given about jobs, or state incentives, however, to the Register. The paper did report that the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board and the Altoona City Council are expected to consider incentives for the project on Tuesday.