A Tennessee Valley Authority economic development program has identified a dozen sites in the Southeast as prime locations for developing the region’s growing data center industry.

Data centers are specially designed to house computer, telecommunication and data-storage systems for Internet search engine companies, financial transaction processors and other high-tech industries.

The initial sites identified in the TVA survey are in: Athens, TN.; Bristol, TN.; Duffield, VA.; Fayetteville, TN.; Guntersville, AL.; Hartselle, AL.; Jackson, TN.; Lenoir City, TN.; Maryville, TN.; Murfreesboro, TN.; Olive Branch, MS.; and Tullahoma, TN.

“Demand for data centers is growing as increased use of electronic commerce and information technologies requires more data storage space,” said John Bradley, senior vice president for TVA Economic Development. “There are exceptional opportunities for regional growth potential in this industry. These 12 sites in particular have the resources, infrastructure and other qualities needed to support strong data center development.”

TVA chose Chicago-based Deloitte Consulting to assess more than 50 locations across the TVA service area for accessibility, telecommunications infrastructure, electric power availability and reliability, and other characteristics beneficial to data center development.

"The potential data center sites we've identified in the TVA region possess a strong suite of resources that could be attractive to the industry and beneficial to the region's economic growth,” said Darin Buelow, principal with Deloitte’s Global Expansion Optimization practice.

Bradley said other sites reviewed during the initial process are working to fulfill the criteria, and he expects more locations will be identified as primary sites after they are assessed a second time.

The TVA board of directors approved rate incentives in December 2008 to attract data centers and similar businesses to the region. Qualifying data centers could be eligible for TVA manufacturing rates if they have a power demand in excess of 5 megawatts and operate at an average of at least 80 percent of this demand.

“Data centers provide highly skilled, good-paying job opportunities,” Bradley said. “TVA’s goal is to help make the region more competitive in attracting and retaining these types of industries and the economic benefits associated with them.”