Power companies, like politicians, actively pursue Amazon. In that way, the company fits into a long U.S. tradition of shifting costs from businesses to poor residents, who already pay about three times more of their income on utility bills than do wealthy households, according to a 2016 ACEEE study. The difference these days is that data-center operators, unlike manufacturing plants, can't claim to be engines of job growth, says the ACEEE's Elliott. -Bloomberg
Meanwhile, data centers typically add few new jobs to rural counties. "When you attracted the steel mill years ago, you got 2,000 employees," says Neal Elliott, senior director of research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a green lobbying group. "When you attract a data center, you get maybe 50."