Wired Magazinne reports of an anomoly in the utility scale data center development world - the state of Utah has actually enabled a public entity to levy a utility users tax on the new National Security Agency facility being constructed on a former military base.
I've watched with no small sense of dismay as municipalities, states, and perhaps even utilities trip overthemselves to attract data center development - offering tax breaks and exemptions and "economic development" utility tariffs.
And just to be clear, I think there may be room for these incentives for new development that has a positive impact on a community, which usually means it brings in solid employment. What seems to be missing in the calculation is that data centers simply don't bring in much employment (at least after construction and installation of IT equipment), so the government isn't getting much for their investment.
(According to an excellent overview in another Wired piece, the 65 MW NSA site will include an extensive campus, so is likely to employ a significant workforce, especially in light of its fairly remote location.)
In Utah, the state legislature at least recognized that the NSA project wasn't going to pay a fair share for the installation of utility facilities to serve the new data center incurred by a base reuse authority, so has passed a bill allowing for a six percent surcharge on the utility bills the NSA will pay to Pacificorp-owned Rocky Mountain Power.
Taxes of this type - we call them Utility Users Taxes in California, put the utility in an awkward place, collecting an unpopular tax on energy bills (and these often extend to phone and even cable service) and making their bills all the more unpalatable to customers.
My counsel to data center developers is to be aware of the possibility of a UUT being imposed. While a local municipality may seem eager to court you and even offers incentives, local citizens can always call for an initiative to impose a UUT to fund municipal services. You might want to sponsor a few softball teams rather than hiding behind your security fence.
For utilities, well, you're used to being caught in the middle, but I would be sure to explain to developers that you can't predict or be responsible for taxation of the power you deliver.