Facebook to build $146 million solar farm in Texas

Texas was ranked number two nationally in 2018 for solar power development and the announcement by Facebook will likely strengthen the ranking.

Facebook announced it will build a $146 million solar farm in West Texas—the largest in the nation and Facebook’s first direct investment in renewable energy.

The Prospero Solar project will be constructed north of Odessa with a capacity of 379 megawatts, enough to power 72,000 homes. Facebook is partnering with Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy to move ahead with the project.

Prospero Solar is expected to be completed next year and will take up around 7 square miles  — more than five times the size of Central Park in New York City.

 

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook will be the sole tax equity investor, Longroad said.

 

Shell Energy North America and Facebook will share the power generated by the solar farm.

“Facebook is excited to be one of the first companies to use a direct investment to meet our renewable energy goals,” company energy strategy manager Peter Freed said in a statement.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in April that Facebook was building six new solar projects to support its data centers. They house tens of thousands of computer servers, which are linked to the outside world through fiber-optic cables.

“Our data centers are already some of the most energy efficient in the world, and last year we set a goal for all our data centers and offices to use 100% renewable energy by 2020,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “These new solar projects will help us reach that goal.”

Meanwhile, Facebook is fighting with the state of New Mexico over a new transmission line to its data center in the town of Los Lunas.

State regulators last month declined to reconsider their decision for the largest utility to bill Facebook $39 million for the transmission line. They said ratepayers could not be charged for the project because the line wouldn’t benefit retail customers.

The Public Service Co. of New Mexico said it’s disappointed by the decision and is reviewing options for how to proceed.

The New Mexico data center is one of seven such sites for Facebook, and includes six buildings for data storage. It is situated on a patch of desert at the edge of Los Lunas, which lies just beyond the edge of New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area and along the Rio Grande.

 

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