Apple announced it will build a new $1.375 billion data center in Waukee, Iowa, which will be 100 percent powered by wind energy. While there are a number of reasons Apple chose this location (second lowest cost of doing business, availability of skilled workers), there’s one reason that is unique to the Hawkeye State – Iowa is the easiest state in the country for companies to purchase renewable energy. Here’s what Apple CEO Tim Cook told Radio Iowa about Iowa’s availability of renewable energy:
“For us, that’s kind of a gate. If we couldn’t do that, we would not be here,” Cook said. “To Iowa’s credit, Iowa saw this and had the vision to work with the utilities and so forth so it could happen. I think that says a lot about the people here and how they work together.”
Governor Kim Reynolds added that Iowa can also ensure more reliable access to electric power, another key factor in Apple’s decision.
“We have the geographic benefit of being statistically one of the safest areas in the United States, free from hurricanes, earthquakes, and rolling blackouts, that might threaten the integrity of data centers,” Reynolds said.
Data centers are “one of the most energy-intensive building types” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Companies that care about their environmental footprint, like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, have invested in Iowa because the state is one of a few places in the country where an energy-intensive facility can run on renewable energy at an affordable rate. The state’s utility companies also now have unmatched experience in creating renewable energy purchase agreements with large users.
More than 36 percent of Iowa’s electricity comes from wind (the highest percentage of any state), Iowa’s electricity rates are significantly lower than the national average and Iowa has one of the most stable grids in the country.
While data centers have been the early adopters of Iowa’s wind energy, the state’s vast availability could also power large manufacturing facilities, retailers and any other business that places a priority on renewable energy.