A recent Citizen column described the Fayetteville City Council meeting regarding the construction of the Fayette County QTS data center.
Located near Trilith, this project removes 615 acres of forest, replacing it with the largest data center in the world (i.e., lots of drab buildings with computers in them).
The still unanswered question is “how does this QTS data center benefit Fayette County citizens”? Or, as an official for the Development Authority put it when I asked why they support it: “Return on investment.”
Most of us moved to Fayette County for its great quality of life. We demand that our county stay that way, as reflected in every local election. On the other hand, commercial growth is key to our tax base.
But very few jobs are created by data centers, as the column states. And the column did not contain information regarding projected taxes to be paid to our local government because this is unknown. Governments usually give tremendous tax breaks, cancelling projected tax revenues. No specific public information has been released regarding these key issues.
We do know that the data center will be a negative for the environment, as well as for those living near that area. Centers consume substantial amounts of electricity to power and cool equipment. Their energy demand strains the local power grid and increases greenhouse gas emissions.
These facilities require substantial amounts of water for cooling purposes. High data center usage exacerbates water scarcity problems. What guarantees do we have that water will be recycled? Will we have shortages here, as they have elsewhere with data centers?
Another aspect is the electronic waste generated by data centers. How will QTS be handling the recycling/disposal issue in Fayette County?
Despite these environmental issues, is this project right for our county? We must know what tax revenue this project will generate… after tax breaks. Exactly how many jobs are created?
Our political leaders and the QTS project itself must also be more forthcoming regarding their plans to protect homeowners and our environment. It is unacceptable to have a project of this size with so many unknowns.
Peachtree, City, Ga.