Data center campus coming to Hannibal
Kreg Robinson, General Manager
When ground was broken for the Hannibal Power Project at the former Ormet site May 30, Robert “Bo” Wholey described it as “just the first or second inning.”
If it’s just the beginning as the Long Ridge Energy Terminal president predicted, things are off to a pretty good start.
Another company has announced its intent to come to the site, DP Facilities Inc. which has selected Hannibal as the site for its next world-class data center campus.
According to a press release, the facility will be constructed next to the 485-megawatt natural-gas power plant that is being built at the site. The power plant is scheduled to be completed in November of 2021.
Construction for the data center is based on the construction of the power plant.
DP Facilities spokesperson Kathleen Fowler said the power plant made Hannibal an ideal location for its new data center campus.
The power plant will provide access to low-cost electricity at 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“Long Ridge Energy Terminal is a significant development project for FTAI (Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC) and DP Facilities is excited to be a partner in a specialized use of the property for secure data center space for government and highly-regulated tenants,” Fowler said. “This facility’s power profile cannot be matched elsewhere in the country with the same certainty of fuel supply and the absence of hazards at the site, and will offer leading-edge security, dependable resiliency and long-term value – which are hallmarks of DP Facilities’ data centers.”
DP Facilities currently owns and operates the Mineral Gap Data Center in Wise, Virginia, which is a 65,000 square foot facility that stores data for its customers.
Wise County, Virginia, similar to Monroe County, offers a safe location for the storage of data.
It is a protected mountain location in southwestern Virginia where natural disasters are, for the most part, non-existent.
In addition, Wise County, Virginia, like Hannibal, is located away from major population centers, thus minimizing the risk of blackouts and attacks on large population centers.
According to Fowler, DP Facilities provides secure space, power and technology services to allow its customers to safely connect through public and private networks and back office applications globally.
“Data centers collectively are an essential component of the world’s networked economy, enabling businesses, governments and health organizations to not only store and manage their data,” Fowler said, “but to tie into the infrastructure powering worldwide connectivity in a secure, resilient, dependable manner.”
Fowler said the project is estimated to bring 300 construction jobs to the area. Once it is completed, the data center campus will train and employ as many as 50 local people for “high-paying careers offering stability and opportunity.”
“The Hannibal data center campus is consistent with our win-win business model that brings long-term, high-skill, well-paying jobs to communities that are transitioning their economies toward sustainable 21st century clean-powered business,” Fowler said.
“Our goal is to hire and train locally by attracting workers who are willing and able to be retrained for employment in our facilities,” Fowler added. “For example, when we developed our Mineral Gap Data Center in Wise, Virginia – in the heart of former coal country – we hired local former coal-mine employees and transformed them into data center technicians. We are passionate about economic development in areas that need a life, that need a path to new prosperity after a legacy industry has dried up or moved out.”
Similar to the power plant, Fowler said the data center will only take up an estimated 30 acres, leaving plenty of room for future development.
The power plant, which will create more than 300 construction jobs and 20 full-time jobs once completed, is viewed as an anchor site drawing other businesses to the former Ormet site.
The DP Facilities Data Center is the first major commitment. However, during the May 30 groundbreaking, Wholey said he was in talks with other businesses interested in coming to the site.
“Our partnership with DP Facilities is ideal for both this project and for the greater Hannibal community,” Wholey said. “Data centers represent the highest and best use of our available on-site resources and for the electricity we will be producing, and data center demand is tremendous and growing. The low-cost, fixed-price electricity we’re offering makes this a natural fit.”
Fowler felt the data center will also act as an anchor to attracting even further interest in development.
“First, from a customer-acquisition perspective, our business model is based on providing space for government, enterprise and hyperscale businesses. So, we’ll be bringing other businesses in as customers,” Fowler said. “Secondly, we see our data centers as a form of infrastructure that communities can leverage to create jobs and attract more companies. We’re in Hannibal for the long haul, and we believe our presence will help seed further economic activity.
“You need strong underlying infrastructure to revitalize an area, to fuel a diverse and sustainable economy,” she added. “Think of the construction workers who come in to build a facility like Long Ridge and a data center like ours – they need retail and other kinds of businesses, places to live and eat and thrive. And if you can keep that economic development ball rolling, those workers and others can see Hannibal as a home, not just as a temporary assignment.”