Facebook touts impact of its renewable energy projects in New Mexico
Social media giant Facebook touted its renewable energy projects across the country in a recent report, citing the impact of a facility in New Mexico on the surrounding local community.
Facebook’s US Renewable Impact Study was released Wednesday to show how the company’s wind and solar energy initiatives have benefited 10 states: New Mexico, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Caroline North, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Virginia – States identified, according to the report, as having growing markets for low-carbon energy.
In 2011, Facebook began its efforts to support data centers across the country using fully renewable energy, bringing 55 new solar and wind projects to date and adding 5,763 megawatts (MW) of “clean electricity” to the American network.
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The development of renewable energy has resulted in capital expenditures of $ 7.4 billion, while projects during construction have supported over $ 40,000 and $ 4.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) for the U.S. economy. , according to the report, between 2014 and 2022.
In New Mexico, that meant 635 MW and 2,283 were brought into the state – the third highest in the study between Texas and the Tennessee Valley region, which includes parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi.
The company’s data center in Los Lunas, south of Albuquerque was opened in 2017 and, as part of a partnership between Facebook and the New Mexico Utility Company (PNM), was supported by 100% renewable energy.
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This has led to 10 additional solar and wind projects in the state, with seven being operational and the other three due to go live in 2021 and 2023, the report says.
By 2023, more than half of PNM’s generating capacity was expected to come from renewable energy, the report said, with more than a third tied to Facebook’s resources.
The 10 projects in New Mexico would generate up to 635 MW, with 2,200 construction jobs between 2017 and 2022 and $ 120 million in total labor income.
The construction phase would also contribute $ 207 million to the state’s GDP, according to the report.
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While the projects are up and running, they will support 36 jobs generating more than $ 86,000 per year in wages and benefits, read the report, bringing in $ 5 million in labor income and $ 14 million in state GDP.
Facebook’s solar and wind projects were located in six counties: Cibola, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Valencia, Torrance and Quay, with another solar project on the border between Southeast New Mexico and West Texas in the Andrews County, Texas.
The report touted project locations in an “economically troubled area,” indicating data which showed that as of 2019, per capita income averaged $ 38,000, about 33% below the national average. .
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A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) describes an “almost nocturnal boom” caused by the Los Lunas data center for the small town of 15,000 people.
“The data center was also a sudden force in reshaping the way electricity is now produced in New Mexico – pushing the state to switch to a much higher percentage of renewable energy much sooner than expected.” , indicates the IEEFA report. .
Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Facebook, said the projects aimed not only to push states towards low-carbon forms of energy, but also to deliver economic benefits to local communities in the region.
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“We are proud that our commitment to renewable energy has brought additional investments and benefits to communities across the United States,” said Parekh. “It is clear that renewable energies are not only good for the environment, but create opportunities for businesses, people and communities.”
And state leaders in New Mexico are pushing for more renewable energy not only to address environmental concerns, but also to diversify the state’s economy, which currently relies on fossil fuels alone for more than a third of its budget.
New Mexico State Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said adding renewable energy projects was the top priority of the New Mexico State Lands Office to diversify uses land owned by the state.
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She said the office’s goal of tripling New Mexico’s renewable energy capacity on state land, and that it had doubled in the past two years.
Upon taking office, Garcia Richard created the State Land Office’s Renewable Energy Office to recruit companies like Facebook and other developers to bring more projects to New Mexico.
“With as much focus as we have on oil and gas, we’re putting so much energy and focus into diversification,” she said. Our number one strategy at the State Land Office is to use state land for renewable energy.
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we have the resources here.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.