Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), a consumer-owned utility with a reputation for community service and an impressive solar energy program, is Facebook, Inc.’s choice to power its new Newton Data Center with 100 percent renewable energy.
Walton EMC will install hundreds of acres of solar panels on Georgia’s electric grid as part of an innovative power supply agreement with the technology company. Besides generating Facebook’s green energy, the solar energy project will create hundreds of jobs and boost both the local and state economies.
The power purchase arrangement designed for customer choice is an industry first, said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. Walton EMC is a national leader in renewable energy. The cooperative designed a community-supported solar energy program that has served as a model for electric utilities nationwide.
“We are happy that we could guarantee the renewable energy solution that Facebook was searching for,” Lee said. “And we are pleased to be partnering with them on a power supply arrangement that can serve as a positive economic and environmental template for future industrial developments throughout the nation.”
The renewable energy partnership was announced during a press conference today as Gov. Nathan Deal confirmed that Facebook is locating its newest data center adjacent to Interstate 20 in Newton County.
“We are committed to powering our data centers with 100 percent clean and renewable energy, and finding strong partners that can help us achieve that ambitious goal is a key part of our selection process,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy at Facebook. “We are excited to work with Walton EMC to bring hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy to the electrical grid in Georgia.”
Essential in this process is another partner, Morgan Stanley’s commodities division. As Walton EMC’s wholesale energy supplier, Morgan Stanley is helping provide long-term cost stability and reliability from renewable projects to both Walton EMC and Facebook.
“Morgan Stanley is extremely pleased to partner with Walton EMC and Facebook on this important, landmark transaction. This innovative transaction demonstrates our commitment to helping our clients secure low-cost, clean energy through market-based solutions,” said Jay Rubenstein, head of the North American power and gas business at Morgan Stanley.
The Newton Data Center is Facebook’s ninth such state-of-the-art facility in the country. Three buildings totaling 970,000 square feet will comprise the data center’s campus.
Facebook data centers are among the most advanced, energy-efficient facilities in the world, using 38 percent less electricity than the average data center. Several factors contribute to this, including:
- Cooling is accomplished using outdoor air, rather than air conditioners.
- Hyper-efficient hardware powers Facebook apps and services.
- All electricity used is 100 percent clean and renewable.
Teaming on an innovative renewable energy solution is a natural for the like-minded companies, Lee said.
“Our goals and missions are similar in many ways,” he said. “One of the bedrock principles that our cooperative operates by is ‘concern for community.’ Likewise, Facebook has shown that it cares about the communities where it chooses to locate its state-of-the-art facilities. That extends to caring for our environment.”
Facebook’s Newton Data Center is planned to be operational in 2020. The facility will help bring Facebook apps and services to more than 2 billion people worldwide.