Old ELF site eyed for state data center

Journal Ishpeming Bureau

HUMBOLDT- Humboldt Township hosted elected officials Friday on a tour of the former U.S. Navy ELF site Friday.

Humboldt Township Supervisor Joe Derocha invited many people out the former ELF, or extremely low frequency, communications site to tour the facilities and see that the buildings and property has been well maintained over the years.

The new reuse plan for the site is to house the Michigan data center. It was first proposed in 2009 that the Michigan State Police crime lab be moved to the ELF site.

“We invited our elected officials to show them exactly the type of facility we have and the quality of our facility,” Derocha said. “We’re trying to partner with a data server company that makes the hardware to go into the facility we have in Humboldt Township.”

Among the elected officials invited on the tour were state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and members of the Marquette County Board.

According to Derocha, the state is going to relocate its data center and the data that’s stored for the secretary of state and other departments. Among several sites being considered for the data center, the ELF site is the only one in the Upper Peninsula. Currently, the state data is housed at several different locations throughout the state.

“We would like to see it in the Upper Peninsula and I’m hoping that we can make an attempt to get that done,” Derocha said.

Derocha said he believes Humboldt is the best site for the data center, but there is one challenge that needs to be overcome.

“Our power charge is 10 percent to 15 percent higher than lower Michigan,” Derocha said. “It makes a big hurdle for a company to relocate here, but we’re working on that and that’s why we have a senator and state representative here. We need to come up with a solution for that.”

According to Derocha, the township is reviewing the state’s request for proposals, which was released this week, and said it is going to meet or exceed all of the requirements for the site.

The Michigan Department of Management and Budget will decide where the new data center is going to be located.

“There is a requirement for the data center to be in a remote location due to security,” Derocha said. “So being a national defense security site for national defense already, we have a leg up on that.”

The ELF site served as submarine communication station that was last used in 2005. Humboldt gain ownership last June.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is awhitefoot@miningjournal.net.