Facebook recently announced plans to build a new data center – its sixth in the United States – south of Omaha, Nebraska, and power the facility solely through wind-generated electricity.
It’s a tall order. The 146-acre campus – which is expected to be online in 2020 – will include two 450,000-square-foot buildings and a 70,000-square-foot administrative building.
Facebook worked with the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to design a renewable energy tariff, Rate 261M, that allows large energy customers to directly source renewable energy and the associated wind energy credits from wind projects within OPPD’s service territory.
OPPD, which already doubled its wind-generating capacity in January of this year, will add even more wind to meet Facebook’s plan to power its Sarpy County data center with 100 percent renewable energy. OPPD boosted its share of wind by 400 megawatts to more than 800 megawatts when it added the Grande Prairie wind farm in Holt County – the largest wind farm in Nebraska.
OPPD President and Chief Executive Tim Burke said he and the utility’s then-new head of economic development met with Facebook officials at the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters in 2013 to start talking about how to land large, environmentally minded electricity customers in Omaha.
They met with other companies, too, and since the new rate was approved in January, other firms have taken notice.
“We have several customers right now that are putting together potential expansion projects and will utilize that (new) rate to grow,” Burke said.
Facebook has a goal of using 50 percent clean and renewable energy in its electricity supply mix for data centers in 2018. The company currently has data centers in the U.S. in Prineville, Oregon; Forest City, North Carolina; and Altoona, Iowa. In addition, data centers are also under construction in Los Lunas, New Mexico, and Fort Worth, Texas. Facebook also has a data center in Lulea, Sweden, and is building facilities in Clonee, Ireland, and Odense, Denmark.