Cheap hydro dries up

| Print |  Email
Archives - August 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009

The days of the Googles and Amazons of the world rushing to The Dalles and Boardman to cash in on cheap federal hydropower for secretive new server farms are officially over.

As part of an exhaustive process to negotiate new 20-year contracts with its key electricity customers, the Bonneville Power Administration has closed the loophole that convinced Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo to build high-energy data centers jam-packed with servers and powered by subsidized Columbia River hydropower.

Previously these companies were allowed to partner with local governments and public utility districts (PUDs) to negotiate bargain-basement power rates with the BPA of around 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in exchange for new jobs and guaranteed power purchases. But under the new rules, any new user of electricity will have to pay a fair market price rather than the historically low wholesale rate paid to PUDs.

“We are going to serve at the historic low rate for the current load, but for load growth, they will pay for the cost of the added supply,” says BPA administrator Stephen Wright. “The load server farms that got in before now, good for them. From this point forward, everyone is going to see basically the same price.”

The new policy will not sour the sweetheart deals that are already in place for Google in The Dalles or Amazon in Boardman. Nor will it slow the demand for new server farms to support the cloud computing boom. It just moves them out of the region. In July Microsoft opened new data centers in Ireland and Chicago, and Apple recently announced that it will invest more than a billion dollars in a data center in North Carolina.

BEN JACKLET
 

Comments   

 
thinking forward
0 #1 thinking forward 2009-08-05 14:43:50
Do you remember the FAKE Power Shortage that KILLED the Aluminum Plants? Here we go again!! Jobs Jobs we need Jobs!!!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Ben J
0 #2 Ben J 2009-08-06 11:36:50
The subsidized power for the aluminum plants could not last forever. Neither could the cheap power for the server farms. Power costs are going up, not down. That will kill some jobs, while creating others.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Portland’s long-distance bike commuters

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
Matt KellyresizethumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Pushing the extreme.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

Downtime with Jill Nelson

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play wit the CEO of Ruby Receptionists.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Light Reading

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.


Read more...

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS