Just how much power does Google need?

While I thought the news last month that Google was planning on building a facility in The Dalles, Oregon was interesting, in a “well, cost of living, industrial land, labor, and pretty much everything ought to be low, anyway” sort of way, I didn’t think too much about “why The Dalles?” until today, when I read Biz saying that Blogger was a bit slow because they had plenty of computers, but not enough electricity. Then it clicked, and when I went back to actually read the articles, sure enough part of the deal involved Google talking with the head of the Bonneville Power Administration. BPA is an odd sort-of government agency, kind of corporation, which wholesales power from Northwest hydroelectric dams, and the odd nuclear plant and some wind farms, primarily selling to utility companies, though it directly deals with a few enormous consumers of power, like aluminum smelters. And, from the sound of it, Google.

See, the most significant thing you notice when you’re in (okay, driving through) The Dalles is The Dalles Dam, a 1.8 million kilowatt generating monster that stretches a mile and a half across the Columbia River. Hmm. River. Rereading the article, I see where discussions of water supply, and wastewater treatment came up, too, and The Dalles is going to have to beef up its water system, though because the waste won’t require much in the way of treatment, not the wastewater system.

Great Googly Moogly. To build a data center, Google has to belly up right next to a dam, with a big ol’ river to use for water cooling? That’s more computers than I can imagine piling up together.


2005-03-20 16:49:24

Oh come on … there are FAR uglier places in Oregon than The Dalles — Pretty much anything between Bend and Burns would qualify. I might actually stop in The Dalles — and have as they have some good truck stops (and Truck Stops == Good Food) up there — but there are far more places around here that are hideously ugly.

I do know whenever they open that thing up there, I’ll be making the road trip to see the place, assuming they give tours.

Comment by Local citizen #
2005-04-05 19:43:15

I totally agree, I grew up in The Dalles, and there is nothing that can compare to having the hills around you in the spring covered with cherry blossoms. And to whomever wrote the article about ”Driving Through” The Dalles, better realize that what they say might be read by people who just might have an affect on them fitting in, in The Dalles. For you can laugh at the fact that it is a small town, but you seem to forget the way in which small towns work. Just a reminder. Have a nice day!

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-04-05 20:00:36

It can be a bit confusing, if you don’t know your way around, can’t it?

The part at the top of the page, above where it says ”Comments,” is a weblog post, my writing on my site saying whatever I want. And since the last thing that any Google employee ever does (as in, before getting fired) is to talk about the company in any way or detail, you can very safely guess that I’m not a Google employee. Plus, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out about why they were going there, if I was a Google employee likely to work at a data center, because I’d already have known that electricity is the be-all and end-all for them.

Instead, I’m a life-long Oregonian who… yadda yadda, my comments, which were mostly just joking about what an armpit The Dalles is anyway, are already all over the page here. Not to worry, the Google employees will love it (right up until the wind starts to blow, twenty seconds after dawn on their first day in town).

Comment by Local citizen #
2005-04-05 21:36:02

You’re right, I was confused, and figured that out a good ten seconds after I entered my reply. But thank you for the explanation on how your website works, and I appreciate your response, it made my day, as I’m sure mine did yours. With that said, I hope that if you ever do find yourself stuck in The Dalles whether its due to the fact that they closed all the roads out of there due to a snow storm, or your tire exploded due to the immense heat in the summer, for any reason, I suggest going to the movie theatre, for that is where I spent most of my teen years.

Comment by Tim #
2006-09-15 08:25:20

I looks like i am going to be working at the new google center in the dalles, I currently live in Las Vegas,nv ( and hate it) I’m moving my family there. I’m married for 16 years(only wife) and have 3 great kids 14,11,7. Growinf up there what can you tell me about this town? It seem great for what i can find out?

Comment by Nicole #
2006-09-19 05:38:56

Hi Tim–

When are you moving to the Dalles? When is google going to be done with its plant?

Comment by Mark #
2006-10-01 09:45:35

welcome to The Dalles, Or. Here is a local web page for you to view. http://www.thedalleschronicle.com

Comment by Anonymous #
2005-04-16 14:37:54

Your comment about fitting in in The Dalles, and how small towns work. From my experience here this is the only small town that works that way. I grew up in a small town in Montana,(also with amazing sights around it, like the Rocky Mountains) and I have lived in several other small towns, and a couple of large Metro areas. None of them work like The Dalles. I’ve lived in The Dalles nineteen years and I’m still a newcomer. Most of my friends are also newcomers. I have gotten to know a couple of local folks tho, fine persons, but why do you keep it this way? And, I do have great days!!

Comment by Matt #
2005-08-31 17:51:53

I grew up in The Dalles as well. Went to high school there and graduated in 1994. I was young enough (18) when I left to really come to appreciate that whole area more at this point in time. Now living in Lincoln, Nebraska….one tends to appreciate bodies of water made by God and not these cheap man-made, disease infested ’lakes’ here in Nebraska. One also comes to appreciate the the mountains and the fact that just about any climate is within a couple hours drive. The Dalles definitely needs Google, in a HUGE way. With both of the aluminum plants in the area virtually closed, that town was desperate for a spark of economic prosperity.

Comment by Tom #
2007-05-31 14:53:10

Lost in Nebraska: I graduated from high school in The Dalles about a half-century before you did, and my ex-wife came from Nebraska. I’m guessing that she took in too much water from those cheap man-made disease-infested lakes you referred to. I couldn’t agree more with your comparison of the two geographic areas; I had the good sense to stay in the west. Check the bus schedules, Google may need some folks with a clear mind.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-03-20 20:28:34

”The Dalles: We Ain’t No Juntura. Or Irrigon, Neither!”

I wouldn’t count on the tour: a few weeks back, they had some troubles as a result of a fire in a data center, and they weren’t even willing to admit where the data center is. I’ll be surprised if they put their name on the outside of the building.

2005-03-21 10:50:33

Oh, I know folks in the area up there. I’m sure I can at least get pictures of the building somehow, once it’s all built.

Or I’ll just drive up there myself, make a stop in some of the itty-bitty towns along the way like Maupin, Tygh Valley, and Dufer.

Comment by tim #
2006-10-25 09:18:45

yeah well i got the job and went to the site for the interview. all though they would not let me inside untill i am on staff. but very nice love the town moving in a few weeks

Comment by Scott Hanson #
2005-03-20 23:19:42

That’s one of the things I learned from our provider at my new job. Electricity is scarcer and more expensive than either bandwidth or computing power. They already offer accounts with high bandwidth but limited wattage.

Maybe Moore’s Law isn’t dead, but just has a new parameter.

Trackback by Threadwatch.org #
2005-03-18 11:06:40

Google’s Blogger out of Juice, Oregon Property Deal Makes Sense


Comment by Terry Graham #
2006-06-14 15:47:27

I grew up in The Dalles. I also worked at one of the Aluminum Plants that used electricity. I worked at the Goldendale smelter next to the John Day Damn We never got our power from BPA. We got our power out of Canada for a better price. You have a valid point for source, but they will probably get there p[ower for a better rate elsewhere and use the transmission lines the go to The Dalles smelter. Propery costs/taxes, freeway/river access and an airport across the river were probably the most actractive reasons.

Comment by Jim #
2007-01-25 11:00:12

Never got power from the BPA? How long did you work there? We got power from them for years. It wasn’t until the price went through the ceiling that we went to other sources. The low price for power back in the day was the reason that the aluminum companys came to The Dalles in the first place. Do some homework before you write something that is totaly absurd. Google may or may not be good for The Dalles but it’s better then another gas station or another car lot. The Dalles has needed a change for many years. Change is not an easy thing for many but it has been needed for many years.

Trackback by UtterlyBoring.com #
2005-03-20 16:46:25

Why Is Google Building In The Dalles?

I mentioned before that Google was planning on opening up shop in The Dalles. So why The Dalles? Because there’s a big frickin’ hydroelectic dam there, and Google might need…

Trackback by Geek News Central #
2005-03-22 01:46:57

Geek News Central Podcast #49 2005-03-22

I am back and feeling much better cover a lot of topics tonight and we give you the final clue for the answer to our 3 part question that you will have to answer. Contest entries are due buy 9pm…

Trackback by Deep Green Crystals #
2005-05-19 17:42:31

How important power is to technology…

I remember when we choose a new office for Loudeye, we didn’t much consider the power requirements. We figured we were right smack dab in the middle of the city and we coul get all the power we could ever…

Comment by leonard berry #
2005-11-04 21:49:29

i live in the dalles and google is here for theres a lot of under table nego but is protected info

Comment by Russ #
2006-11-18 17:53:59

So where is Google located in The Dalles?

Comment by tim #
2006-11-22 09:08:32

Now Russ you know that nobody can tell you that info!! Your going to have to look around, The town isn’t that big. If you look you will find it.

Comment by Jim #
2007-01-25 10:49:24

The Dalles has resisted change for many years. I have lived here for 45 years and had my fill of gas stations and car lots. It’s about time that The Dalles has let a company like Google build here. What surprises me is that the city councle didn’t run them off, again resisting change. About the dam, nobody gets power directly form the dam. It must go through the power grid and must be bought from the BPA. I think that the water from the river used for cooling and the high speed fiber optics along with the Availability of land is why they are here. As for the person that said that the aluminum plants didn’t get power from the BPA, get a life. We bought power from them for years. It wasn’t until the price went through the ceiling that we went to Canada or elsewhere, I know I work there for over 24 years.

Comment by Informed Citizen #
2007-08-08 18:59:20

So… for all those who are interested in the happenings of Google and The Dalles take some advice from me. It’s big and bad news. I worked for the Dam and lived in The Dalles my entire life. The word shady is the only thing that comes to mind when I recollect on the years past spent in that area. If you put the puzzle together and think about all the things that are located in that area an intellegent person could come to the conclusion that I recently have.

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