The largest solar development announced to date in Georgia will provide 200 megawatts (MWs) of energy to power Facebook’s Newton Data Center. The datacenter will be 100 percent powered by three new solar projects being built for the Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) by Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar.
The agreement between EMC and Facebook to power the Newton Data Center with renewable energy was announced in early 2018. But at that time the projects to support the center weren’t announced and they estimated that the data center would be powered by 150 MWs of solar power, which would have constituted 20 percent of the utility’s energy load.
"We are thrilled to be working with Walton EMC, Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar to bring more than 200 megawatts of new solar resources to Georgia," said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy for Facebook. "We are committed to supporting all of Facebook's operations with 100 percent renewable energy and these new solar facilities will help us meet that goal for our Newton Data Center. Developing these resources within the same electric grid that supports our data center will bring even more investment to the region."
The new solar farms will include the 102.5 MW Silicon Ranch Project that will be built by Silicon Ranch in Early County, GA. The other two, the 80 MW Calhoun County solar project and the 20 MW Colquitt County projects will be built by Strata Solar. Silicon Ranch’s project is expected to come online in 2019 and Strata’s projects will be completed in 2020. Each of the companies will create 400 jobs to complete the projects.
"We are happy to welcome Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar to the quality partnership of Facebook, Walton EMC and Morgan Stanley to complete the groundbreaking energy supply arrangement for Facebook's Newton Data Center," said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. "Our unique agreements will serve as models for similar projects all across the country and bring noteworthy economic rewards locally."
Together the projects represent largest single solar development in the state. However, the state’s largest utility, Georgia Power is quickly ramping up its solar portfolio in the state, with 846 MWs of solar online and 1.6 gigawatts of new renewable energy coming online by 2021. Like EMC, Georgia Power is building out some of its renewable energy pipeline to meet the needs of companies that are demanding clean energy.
“Partnering on the project with a customer-focused, consumer-owned electric cooperative helped to inspire the collaboration," said Matt Kisber, CEO of Silicon Ranch. "As the long-term owner of every solar project we develop, Silicon Ranch shares these values, and we are proud to support the renewable energy goals of Facebook's Newton Data Center while bringing an economic shot in the arm to rural Georgia."
"Innovative companies like Facebook, partnered with customer-focused utilities like Walton EMC, are driving renewable energy growth across the country," said Markus Wilhelm, CEO of Strata Solar. "By partnering on clean energy projects like these, we can grow the Georgia economy while bringing significant benefits to local communities."
Facebook has been making partnerships with local utilities to provide renewable energy for its US data canters for years. Including earlier this year in nearby states like Alabama and Tennessee where it contracted with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to build 377MWs of solar farms to support its Alabama data center.Tweet