The Port of Quincy this week said it intends to sell 200 acres of industrial property to Microsoft for $11 million — one of the largest land deals in the port’s history.
Microsoft intends to build a data center, which, the company said, will employ about a hundred people, according to the Port of Quincy news release.
Attracted by the relatively low electricity costs, Microsoft already has a data center in the small town of Quincy, as do Yahoo, Dell, Sabey, Vantage, and Intuit.
While that has provided a boost to Quincy’s economy, some residents have raised concerns that the server farms, with their diesel-powered backup generators, may pollute the air and could increase cancer risk for nearby residents. At least 141 diesel-powered generators are being built around Quincy, according to a Seattle Times story by reporter Craig Welch, who took a look at the issue here and here .
The state Department of Ecology has acknowledged that diesel exhaust pollutes the air and is a carcinogen. But “whether that exhaust is enough to harm a single Quincy resident is a matter of debate,” Welch wrote. “The state Department of Ecology insists pollution is so minute that Quincy’s air, at worst, will remain far less dirty than many of Western Washington’s cleanest communities, from Olympia to Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood.”
The data center opponents say they still can’t get electronic records from Microsoft or any other data center for the dates, times of day, engine loads and run times for the diesel generators to assure the data centers are operating under the terms of their permits.
The newest database is the second in Quincy for Microsoft, which built its first one there on 75 acres of port property in 2007.
Microsoft’s new data center will be three times the size of its current one, the Port of Quincy said, and will be the largest server farm in Quincy. Microsoft’s current data center is already the size of 10 football fields.
Microsoft will pay nearly $4 million for 60 acres the port already owns. It will also pay the port $7 million for adjacent acreage that the port is first buying from private landowners for $6.6 million before selling the land to Microsoft.
The port says the deal is expected to close in late January, with construction on Microsoft’s new data center to begin in the spring.