Facebook eyes New Mexico for possible new data center

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FILE - This July 16, 2013 file photo shows a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. The heartache of a broken relationship may soon become less painful on Facebook. The world’s largest social network is trying to help people who have split up with a spouse or lover, offering a new feature that spares them from constantly seeing their former partner’s posts and pictures in their news feed. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – PNM has filed power purchase agreements on behalf of a “new customer” with the Public Regulation Commission. The customer’s intention is to build a “solar center” of some sort here in New Mexico to power a new data center.

The PRC confirms that customer is Facebook. They say the company is considering opening a data center here in New Mexico or in Utah. Facebook wants an expedited filing of the agreements. The agreements indicate Facebook would want the new data center to be 100% powered by renewable energy, by a new source. Meaning they would build their own “solar center” of some sort. It’s unclear if that would be a wind or solar farm or a combination of the two technologies.

PNM confirms it made the filing, to meet the very specific needs of this new potential customer. PNM says it was told by the customer their energy needs would grow over time. If the application is approved and Facebook decides to come to New Mexico — PNM would help them get their solar center off the ground. They do not do any building themselves. That would all be contracted out. The customer would assume all the costs associated with the solar center. The approved PRC application would also regulate the rate structure the new customer would pay.

PNM asked the PRC to provide their answer by August 31st. That would be the same time an answer is expected out of the regulating body in Utah. PNM says the customer would want to open their data center in the last half of 2017 and the first phase of operations could provide between 30 to 50 full-time jobs. Facebook’s initial investment would cost about 250 million dollars.

Facebook says it is evaluating sites for new data center locations. The amount of access they have to renewable energy will play a role in where they decide to go. Facebook confirms PNM made a filing on their behalf, in preparation for a possible data center opening in New Mexico. They caution they have not committed to opening a data center in any specific location yet.

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