Apple has begun work on the first, US$68 million phase of its new Prineville, Oregon data center, clearing and flattening land for one of two, 338,000 square-foot buildings atop the bluff that overlooks town, reports “The Oregonian” (

The total cost of the facility will likely run in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars once it’s outfitted with servers to run iCloud service, the article adds. Apple paid US$5.6 million in February to buy 160 acres from Crook County, and promptly set up a small, 10,000 square foot modular data center on the site.

The Prineville data center is located a quarter mile south of a Facebook server farm. Oregon’s mild climate and relatively low power costs are part of the draw for such facilities.

Rural “enterprise zones” spare computers and other equipment from the property taxes that other businesses pay. The exemption could be worth several million dollars or more to Apple, depending on the size of its investment, notes “The Oregonian.”

Apple opened a 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C., in 2011. The company also plans to build a new solar farm opposite the data center.