Apple moves forward with data center expansion plans

New purchase in Prineville is likely to be for building expansion but other options possible.

Back in April 2015, Apple filed an application with the County Court responsible for the area including their Prineville Oregon data center, to expand their existing data center operation by adding two additional data halls -- or, as Apple calls them in its own non-standard terminology, pods. While the application has not yet been approved, the company has moved forward by purchasing 200 acres of land directly adjacent to their existing 159 acre Prineville data center campus.

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The purchase is in line with Apple's original 2012 plans which included the possibility of a total of 14 data halls on the campus, but Apple has yet to apply for the tax breaks that they currently enjoy on their existing data center operations. This has led to speculation that the additional land could potentially be used for another function, such as a solar farm similar to what the company has built in Maiden, NC to accompany their initial data center rollout there.

At the Maiden location, Apple has built out 100 acre, 20 MW solar installations in multiple stages with most of the work on three installations already complete. In 2013 approval was granted to Apple to build a solar array for the Prineville facility, but no construction was ever started on that project, which observers are pointing to as evidence that the new land will be used for that purpose.

The application Apple filed indicated that it would spend just under $6 million to build data halls on the land, in addition to the $3.6 million that they paid for the land. The filing for tax abatements will likely let us know which type of facility Apple would be building, though there is no reason the expansion could not include both data halls and solar arrays.

The Maiden, NC installation includes solar farms directly adjacent to the data center as well as on non-collocated locations.