Ohio's Monroe County is Taking Advantage of Opportunity Zones to Attract Data Centers

Ohio's Monroe County is Taking Advantage of Opportunity Zones to Attract Data Centers


By Data Center Knowledge

Image credit: Facebook - Facebook data center under construction in Fort Worth, Texas

This is the fourth and final part of a special DCK series looking at Opportunity Zones and data center developers’ experience with them to date. Be sure to also read part one, which explains what Opportunity Zones are; part two, about an Opportunity Zone that's being leveraged to lure more data center investment to Reno, Nevada; and part three, about how a mothballed military base is being converted into data centers with the help of Opportunity Zones.

Like Sacramento’s McClellan Business Park, located on the site of a former Air Force base, the Long Ridge Data Center campus is located on reclaimed land as well --- in this case, a former aluminum plant in rural Ohio. A wide partnership of industry and government is looking at turning it into a home for data centers.

The Ormet Aluminum Plant, founded in 1957, closed in 2013. At its peak, it had more than 2,000 workers and was said to be one of the most significant employers in the multistate region, producing 270,000 tons of aluminum per year. At the time it shut down, it put 700 people out of work. The company blamed the shutdown on rising electricity costs --- a significant factor in producing aluminum, as the single plant used as much electricity as the nearby major city of Pittsburgh itself --- as well as low aluminum prices.

Consequently, Monroe County is looking to take advantage of Opportunity Zones to attract data centers. The county is finishing a power plant in the unincorporated town of Hannibal that it hopes to use, in conjunction with Opportunity Zones, to attract data centers to the site when it is completed by November 2021, said Bo Wholey, president of Long Ridge Energy. The project broke ground in May, 2019.

Benefits of the site include a 485MW combined cycle power plant under development, more than 125 acres of flat land, fiber-based access to major cloud providers, and natural cooling resources, Wholey said. More than 250 workers are on-site constructing the project, he said.

In the meantime, the site offers existing 138kV transmission lines (500MW capacity) connected to the Kammer substation located 10 miles away in West Virginia. And for organizations that are looking for data centers powered by renewable energy, the site features a 40-acre parcel suitable for solar energy, with eight to 10MW of solar power under development, Wholey said.

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