Solar farms connected to data centers are in the works in other parts of the country. In Tennessee, a 100-megawatt solar facility is in the works to generate power for Google data centers nearby.
But the Green Data projects in Harvard and Murphysboro would be the first of their kind in the state. Bak touts them as an important economic development tool in parts of Illinois that need jobs.
“The goal is to bring those Silicon Valley jobs out of Silicon Valley and into rural areas,” he said.
Here’s the rub: Data centers, big buildings filled with servers and other computer gear, don’t employ many people. Bak’s project won’t come close to employing the 5,000 people who worked full-time at the Motorola campus back in the 1990s. Businesses that lease space in the building will provide jobs, but Bak declined to predict how many.
Harvard doesn’t have the luxury of being picky. Jobs notwithstanding, a redevelopment would boost the taxable value…