Facebook and electricity company Pacific Power announced a partnership this week to build 437 megawatts (MW) worth of new solar projects in Oregon to power Facebook’s Prineville Data Center with 100% renewable energy.
Officials from Facebook and Pacific Power joined with those from Crook County, the City of Prineville, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday to announce that Facebook’s Prineville Data Center will soon be powered by 100% renewable energy from new solar projects set to be developed between Pacific Power and Facebook. Specifically, the two will develop 437 MW worth of new solar, including two projects totaling 100 MW in the Prineville area.
The move serves to cement Prineville’s growing data center industry while demonstrating the value of using renewable energy to power data centers — value which not only provides clean energy to energy-intensive operations but fuels local economic growth and benefits as well as contributing to Facebook’s long-term sustainability and renewable energy goals.
“At Pacific Power, we believe in the power of partnership,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power. “As a 100-year company with a long history of serving smaller communities across Oregon, we believe progress is best achieved when business and community come together. We view this partnership as a way for Facebook to meet its sustainability goals and for Prineville and its neighboring Central Oregon communities to grow and thrive, while delivering cost-effective resources to all of our customers.”
“Our work with Pacific Power to develop new solar resources represents a significant milestone for our hyper-efficient Prineville Data Center,” added Peter Freed, Facebook’s energy strategy manager. “We are committed to supporting 100% renewable energy, and we are thrilled to have found a solution for our first data center. We are proud to be a part of the Prineville community, and look forward to a continued partnership with the city and the state of Oregon.”
Facebook first opened the digital doors to its Prineville data center in 2011, and since then the economic returns on its presence in the area has led to decreased unemployment (17% down to 6.5%) and stronger infrastructure development, including new roads, parks, and even an elementary school — the last of which has been supported with education grants, upgrades to school curriculum, and more STEM education opportunities.
“We are expanding from our timber roots to a future with greater business diversity and a workforce with broader skills,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Jean Roppe. “It is through contributions and support from organizations like Facebook and Pacific Power, that Prineville is growing new jobs and strengthening our schools with programs that meet the skills needs of tomorrow. This inspires new paths and opportunities for future generations, right here in town.”
I reached out to Facebook to understand how this recent announcements fits into their overall sustainability plan, but as of publishing had not heard back. I will update as appropriate.