updated 10:08 pm EDT, Sat April 12, 2014
Original plans for project called for 3-5Mw energy generation on seasonal basis
In order to help power its Prineville, Oregon data center with renewable energy as promised, Apple has taken over a small hydroelectric project located about two miles north of the Haystack Reservoir and 45 miles downstream from the intake. It is unclear how far the project had progressed before Apple acquired it, but original plans called for it generate 3-5 megawatts of energy on a seasonal basis, closing in the winter when the irrigation canal it relies on is shut.
Example of small hydroelectric generating station
Apple had already said during the approvals process for the Prineville center that it would primarily be powered by wind energy purchased from local utilities, and that it planned to also employ solar arrays (and has looked into nearby land for that purpose) and "micro-hydro power" as well. The hydroelectric project was planned to divert water out of the irrigation canal for approximately half a mile, run it through a hydroelectric turbine, then discharge it back into the canal.
The amount of power the turbine would generate was small compared to Apple's requirements: only enough to power 2,100 to 2,500 homes by most estimates. A typical data center can use anywhere up to 30 megawatts of power on an annual basis. The original creator of the project EBD Hydro, transferred the property to Apple in November, new filings show.
In 2011, EBD received a $7.2 million federal loan guarantee for the project and had anticipated that construction would begin at the end of that year. While the current state of facilities isn't know, it appears the project was not yet online. Apple's need for power will grow in the future, as filings have shown that the company is planning to expand the Prineville center, possibly doubling the number of structures. At present it has two 338,000 square foot buildings there.