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Clean and affordable hydropower and a talented workforce have galvanized Yahoo’s plans to expand its Western New York operations.

The technology giant broke ground Friday on a second data center and 24-hour customer care center in Lockport. The facility is expected to create 115 jobs in engineering, information technology and customer care.

The expansion is a $170 million investment.

“This is going to allow us to continue to expand Yahoo’s product offering, making our users’ daily habits inspiring and entertaining for our 800 million users worldwide,” said Rich Kropfl, Yahoo’s vice president of data center operations.

Kropfl was joined at the event on Enterprise Drive by Lt. Governor Robert J. Duffy, other Yahoo executives and elected officials.

“Yahoo is a world-class company, and they chose to come right here to Lockport, Niagara County,” Duffy said. “We are so proud, and I want to thank them. I hope we have many more expansions in the future.”

Building the 150,000-square-foot facility, across the street from the existing Yahoo data center, will create at least 100 construction jobs. And once it’s completed, there will be 15 technology and 100 customer care positions to start. The expanded facility could potentially employ 200 people, Kropfl said.

Yahoo’s first data center opened in 2010. And like that center, the new facility will have an energy-efficient design and use hydropower from the New York Power Authority.

“We came here for many reasons – the cool climate, which allows us to run our state-of-the-art data centers; clean reliable hydropower; great incentives; and, most importantly, a very talented and skilled workforce,” Kropfl said.

Yahoo said its East Coast data center in Lockport is its second largest of 26 worldwide centers, and the most efficient. The campus, which does not need air conditioning because of its design and the cool local weather, will use 50 percent less electricity and 99 percent less water compared with traditional data centers, Kropfl said.

The New York Power Authority already provides 16 megawatts of hydropower to the existing facility, and its board of trustees approved an additional 7.2 megawatts in March for the new center.

“Without the hydropower that incentivized us to be here, we wouldn’t be here,” Kropfl pointed out. “It’s really that clean hydropower that attracts us here to Western New York.”

John R. Koelmel, chairman of the Power Authority, said Yahoo’s decision to expand in Western New York is another indication of economic progress in the region.

“Our low-cost power will significantly reduce operating expenses and result in savings that can be reinvested in jobs and capital improvements,” Koelmel said.

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, said the Niagara Power Plant in Lewiston is “the answer to the economic issues in Niagara County ... Power produced in Niagara County is being used to create jobs in Niagara County,” he said.

The local workforce was also highlighted as an attraction for the company.

“The people we have hired are amazing,” said Michael Draper, Yahoo’s vice president for customer experience. “I’ve hired people across the U.S. The work ethic here, the people here, are just amazing. We are very excited because we’re building careers. We’re not just giving out jobs.”

email: esapong@buffnews.com