PORTLAND — Google is moving forward with plans for a major expansion in The Dalles, where the company opened Oregon’s first big corporate data center in 2006.
The new data center would be 164,000 square feet, according to plans submitted to the city last month, much larger than the buildings now operated by Google in the Columbia River Gorge city.
Google told The Dalles officials in April that it was considering an expansion, but hadn’t made the decision to do so. City planning director Dick Gassman said the company has not given a timetable to start construction.
“They don’t make any commitments until they’re actually ready to go ahead,” he told The Oregonian.
Company officials did not respond to interview requests.
The company was drawn to The Dalles by tax incentives and cheap electricity. It has 150 employees and contractors at a pair of 94,000-square-foot data centers.
Like other major tech firms with Oregon data centers, Google located in a rural enterprise zone that exempts the company from property taxes on their equipment. Wasco County estimates that Google’s exemptions have saved the company $105 million since it opened.
Google could put the new construction under the umbrella of the current 15-year tax abatement period, which is about halfway over, or seek a new 15-year term, said Dan Durow, The Dalles’ community development director.
As part of the initial deal, Google had to provide at least 35 full-time jobs with wages exceeding 150 percent of the county’s average annual wages. It also had to do at least $16.9 million in construction. Google easily cleared both hurdles.
Google would qualify for new property tax exemptions if it invests another $12.5 million and creates at least 35 new jobs, Durow said, or if it invests at least $200 million and creates 10 jobs.
Google is also attracted to the area because of dependable, relatively inexpensive electricity fed by nearby hydro projects. Google’s facility is about 37 megawatts, meaning it draws the same power as 27,400 homes.
As part of the expansion effort, the company is going before the city planning commission to gauge whether a design for an 80-foot-tall building complies with city rules. The existing buildings are 55-feet tall.
City staff is recommending the request be approved, since the new building would go between the existing data centers and is in an isolated area.
“The building will be large, but not out of scale with its surroundings,” according to a staff report obtained by The Dalles Chronicle.