One of our target industry sectors for growth is data centers. AEP’s transmission reliability and capacity, coupled with availability of fiber and pro-business environments, makes our 11-state region an attractive business location for this industry. We proactively reach out to growing technology and enterprise companies to share our region’s strengths and AEP’s capabilities via industry tradeshows, social media and direct marketing.
Two major project announcements in 2017 were from Facebook and TierPoint. In August, Facebook announced the location of a new data center in New Albany, Ohio expected to open in 2019. The project that led to Facebook’s plans to invest $750 million to construct a 970,000-square-foot facility began in 2014 and became active again in the spring of 2017. It required close collaboration between E&BD and transmission planning to meet Facebook’s compressed project schedule. In May 2017, TierPoint, a provider of information technology and data center services, announced its investment of $20 million into its second Tulsa data center. The facility went online in February 2018. Cost-competitive power was cited by TierPoint as a key reason for selecting Tulsa.
In addition to enterprise and co-location data centers, we’re also pursuing data center industry opportunities related to the growth of edge computing and blockchain technology.
AEP’s service territory overlaps five of the seven major shale formations in the United States (as identified by the U.S. Energy Information Administration). The abundance of these natural gas and related liquid resources provides important growth opportunities that support local economic and business development and create new jobs.
The abundance of natural gas and related liquid resources provides important growth opportunities that support local economic and business development and create new jobs.
For example, increased shale gas drilling and production in Northern West Virginia prompted MarkWest Energy Partners to expand its plant and increase load at its Majorsville midstream natural gas processing facilities southeast of Wheeling. MarkWest, the largest processer of natural gas in the Marcellus shale region, needs additional electrical capacity to support its expansion, which is scheduled to be complete in late 2018. AEP responded promptly to meet the customer’s load growth by identifying upgrades in the area to prevent overloads and voltage issues to be completed in the same timeframe.
As oil and gas drilling activities have increased in shale gas-rich regions of the country, the incidents of earthquakes have also been increasing, causing concern in affected communities. The U.S. Geological Survey and others have tied the process of wastewater disposal from oil and gas extraction activities to surges in earthquakes in eight states – including four states in AEP’s service territory (Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas). As we rely more heavily on natural gas for 24/7 power generation, we will look to that industry to ensure responsible practices are in place to minimize environmental impacts, and address earthquake concerns.