Mesa high voltage line for Facebook goes to the hearing | New
Jhe Arizona Corporation Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing in Mesa beginning June 27 on the Salt River Project’s application to construct a half-mile high-voltage transmission line to serve the Meta Data Center campus currently under construction on the Elliot and Ellsworth roads.
Arizona law requires that power plants of 100 megawatts or more or transmission projects of 115,000 volts or more be reviewed by the ACC’s Power Plants and Transmission Lines Siting Committee.
The proposed 230 kV Mesa spur line, supported by poles up to 180 feet high, would connect the Meta data centers to the Southeast Power Link, a 7-mile high-voltage line between Queen Creek and Mesa that has been approved but is not expected to be completed until 2023.
As the primary beneficiary of the branch line, which would run between Corridor 202 and Ellsworth Road, Meta is funding the connection.
SRP’s demand for the high-voltage line, higher than the 69 kV lines more commonly used to transport electricity over short distances, underlines the significant energy demands of data centers in general and the Meta campus in particular. , which will eventually include five separate buildings totaling 2.5 million square feet.
Meta said earlier this year that its Mesa data centers will use about 450 MW per year, enough to power every home in an average-sized city.
Meta has signed long-term purchase agreements with SRP to purchase solar energy to meet its energy needs. SRP is currently constructing solar power plants in Pinal County to generate the contracted electricity.
The hearing on the proposed spur, dubbed Project Huckleberry by SRP, takes place at 1 p.m. at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa at 200 N. Centennial Way.
The committee will be seeking public input during a special evening session on Monday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m. in person and virtually.
The hearing will continue on June 28 at 9:00 a.m. and each weekday thereafter until the end of the hearing. The hearing may be viewed online, by telephone or in person. Zoom links for the audience will be added to the project webpage srp.net/huckleberry.
At the end of the hearing, the implementation committee will decide whether
issue the project with an environmental compatibility certificate. The committee’s decision is then subject to final approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
SRP media relations representative Erica Roelfs said the company held an open house in May at the Eastmark Visitor and Community Center. This followed two virtual meetings held via Zoom in March.
Roelf said a question asked by residents was why the larger 230 kV lines were needed for this project rather than the shorter, lower voltage lines.
According to SRP, the 230 kV double circuit line to Meta would be 180 feet high, compared to 75 feet for the 69 kV lines.
Roelf said “the amount of power required for the project” required high voltage lines, and engineers also told attendees that larger lines were “inherently more reliable” because they are higher off the ground, farther from the street and less likely to be damaged.
Data centers use electricity both to power their servers and also to cool them, since their operation generates a lot of heat.
According to the US Department of Energy, “data centers are one of the most energy-intensive building types, consuming 10 to 50 times more energy per floor area than a typical commercial office building.”
The agency estimates that data centers now account for 2% of electricity consumption in the United States.