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Meta, formerly Facebook, plans to build a big data center in Idaho. What we know

An architect’s rendering of the data center Meta plans at Cole and Kuna-Mora roads in Kuna. | Courtesy Idaho Department of Commerce
KUNA (Idaho Statesman) — Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, will build a giant data center in Kuna, a project the state says represents an investment of $800 million.
The technology center will bring 100 permanent jobs to the Boise suburb, the Idaho Department of Commerce said Wednesday in a news release.
The social-media company plans to break ground in September on the nearly 1 million-square-foot server farm at the corner of Cole and Kuna-Mora roads, Idaho Commerce said. Construction is expected to continue through 2025.
Meta said the center would be its 15th in the U.S. and 19th in the world to help support Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other Meta services. “They support Meta’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together,” Meta says on a new Facebook page for the Kuna center.
The company pledged to spend $50 million to build a sewer and water system to be turned over to the city of Kuna to own and operate. The system will serve the plant but it also will benefit of other new users and businesses, Idaho Commerce said.
“Meta’s large investment in Kuna means great new jobs and innovation opportunities for the city and our state,” Commerce Director Tom Kealey said in the release.
Big companies like Meta, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple have been building data centers around the country for years as internet usage and traffic grows. Now, with the rise of artificial intelligence, the need for such centers is rising even more.
But few have been built in Idaho. Boise has at least three small ones: Involta, based in Iowa, operates at 31,000-square-foot one near Maple Grove and Victory roads in southeast Boise. San Diego-based Datasite runs a 60,000-square-foot center near Maple Grove and Franklin roads. Fiberpipe, based in Boise, runs a 70,000-square-foot center off West Emerald Street near Five Mile Road.
Idaho has some characteristics that can help keep data-center operators’ costs down. The centers use a lot of electricity, and Idaho Power’s electricity is cheaper than most, thanks largely to its reliance on hydropower. Meta will be the first customer to take part in a program proposed by Idaho Power that will assign only “renewable energy from new resources” to the Meta center.
Idaho also has few natural disasters such as earthquakes big enough to damage buildings, and its climate is temperate enough that most of the year, little artificial chilling is needed to keep servers from overheating.
“Our cooling system relies on outside air for cooling for at least 50% of the year,” Meta said in its Facebook post.
The Boise area still has plenty of undeveloped land, too, such as the site Meta will build on.
Significantly, the state now offers data center operators a tax break: Since July 2020, new centers investing at least $250 million and employing at least 30 people have been eligible for a sales tax exemption on server equipment and on construction materials.
Meta’s planned center would more than meet those requirements. Applying for the exemption on Idaho’s 6% sales tax to an $800 million investment could save the company $48 million.
The centers required enormous investments, but they employ relatively few people, and they do little to foster local tech cultures or startups. Nonetheless, Kuna Mayor Joe Stear calls it a plus for the city.
“As the first large anchor in the city’s East Kuna industrial area, their infrastructure investment is a catalyst for expanding the city’s ability to support well-paying jobs and attracted other industrial and manufacturing users in Kuna,” Stear said in the state’s release.
The rise in such centers has had a different impact in Boise: They have brought business to Micron Technology Inc., whose memory chips are essential components of data centers. Micron is one of the world’s top makers of the data storage these centers use.
The post Meta, formerly Facebook, plans to build a big data center in Idaho. What we know appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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