According to a new research and site selection report from commercial real estate services firm CBRE on cost effective locations for cloud computing and data centers, Quincy, WA, ranks as the lowest cost market for power in the United States and is one of the most attractive locations in the country to build and operate a data center.

Over the past few years, several major cloud computing and high tech companies have located in the Quincy, WA area, including Dell, Intuit, Microsoft, Sabey Corporation, Vantage Data Centers, and Yahoo!

The report specifically states that, "In Quincy, electric power is supplied by two hydroelectric dams that produce renewable power at a highly competitive rate.  Increasingly, data center clients are evaluating the power source along with the cost of power. Thus, the low cost of power and its renewable source make Quincy an attractive market for users..."

The report by CBRE also states that Quincy has a low "net tax burden as a share of total project cost," and low "land costs as a share of total project cost."

Additionally, the report indicates that a typical 5 megawatt (MW) enterprise data center project in the U.S. costs $270.1 million over a 10-year period.  However, locating a data center in a low-cost location such as Quincy could result in potential savings of up to $140.9 million to site-selection savvy users. 

According to CBRE, markets with the highest costs are: Silicon Valley, San Antonio, Texas, Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis. The cost to build and operate an enterprise data center in these markets typically ranges from $276.6 million to $368.4 million.

Furthermore, the report says that data centers can be located anywhere where there are strong power and data connections; however, investors and owners who are building one-user "enterprise" data centers are being drawn to rural locations such as Quincy, Washington where land is inexpensive and the area is low risk (meaning that natural disasters rarely occur), and where development or tax incentives and low power prices can be found.

Overall, Quincy has many strong attributes and infrastructure for high-tech cloud computing companies, such as:

  • Plentiful low-cost renewable hydroelectric power.
  • High-voltage and redundant electric transmission lines.
  • Attractive tax incentives for data centers.
  • Very low risk of natural disaster or service interruption.
  • High-capacity and redundant dark fiber.
  • Efficient permitting and zoning.
  • An approved foreign trade zone ideal for server assembly and high-tech manufacturing.
  • An industrial water treatment system designed specifically for data centers.
  • Nearby commercial air service.
  • A skilled workforce.
  • Close to several colleges and universities.

According to Dan Peterson, a data center expert with real estate services firm Colliers International, "Tax incentives and cost of power can drive site selection as much as network and geographic risk mitigation.  Look at Quincy, Washington and Des Moines, Iowa.  Both were put on the map this way." 

Pat Lynch, managing director of data center solutions at CBRE, says those two cities (Quincy and Des Moines) are included in the top five inexpensive markets for data centers in the country and prices to build and operate data centers in these markets typically range from $227.5 million to $248.3 million.