Public Service Co. Seeks New Wind, Solar Farms for Facebook Data Center

Wed January 31, 2018 - West Edition #3

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) New Mexico's largest electricity provider is seeking state regulatory approval for power purchase agreements with two companies that would build new wind and solar farms to serve Facebook's new data center.

The Public Service Co. of New Mexico's request for the Public Regulation Commission comes after Facebook announced plans to expand the data center under construction south of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Facebook plans to expand the Los Lunas data center to six buildings over the next five years, requiring more power. The utility is already constructing three solar plants to supply the center's first two buildings.

The utility has negotiated agreements with Avangrid Renewables and NextEra Energy Inc. to build and operate two wind farms and a solar facility to meet Facebook's added energy needs. The companies would sell the generated power to the utility for delivery.

The utility is proposing for Avangrid to build a wind farm by 2020 east of Estancia in central New Mexico.

For NextEra, the utility wants the $72 million wind farm that's expected to be completed at the end of this year in the eastern part of the state. It also wants the $75 million solar plant that will be built in Cibola County in western New Mexico, which is expected to open in late 2021.

The utility is looking to expedite the approval process for the purchase agreements as Facebook's construction plans for the data center accelerate. The utility is seeking to bring the case directly before the commission instead of going through rounds of initial hearings.

The partnership with Facebook is beneficial to both sides by boosting the local economy and creating clean energy, utility officials said.

“We look forward to working with Facebook and the commission on these new projects that will do even more to help the environment as well as bolster economic development,” said Becky Teague, a spokesman for the utility.

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