Reginald McKnight, center, Facebook’s head of U.S. economic development policy, speaks during a press conference in March to announce the social giant’s new data center in Social Circle. J. Scott Trubey/strubey@ajc.com

Facebook secures contracts to power its data center in Newton County

Walton Electric Membership Corporation has hired two solar companies to power Facebook’s nearly 1 million-square-foot data center under construction in Newton County.

The contracts signed with Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar will provide more than 200 megawatts of solar power for the center, which is expected to run on 100 percent renewable energy.

The power will be supplied through facilities built in Early, Calhoun and Colquitt counties in southwest Georgia. The facilities are expected to go online by 2020.

VIDEO: More on solar energy

The company is helping take the cost and confusion out of installation.

Both companies are investing more than $230 million into the project. Silicon Ranch, the solar platform for Shell, is one of the largest independent solar power producers in the country, while Strata Solar is a provider of utility-scale, commercial and industrial solar systems.

Besides providing energy savings for the company and expanding the state’s renewables portfolio, the project will create 800 jobs, a majority of which will be in construction.

“Developing these resources within the same electric grid that supports our data center will bring even more investments in the region,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy for Facebook.

Facebook confirmed plans to build the data center last March and contracted with Walton Electric Membership Corporation to provide electric power for the center, the ninth of its kind for Facebook in the nation. The center will service billions of its global social media audience.

Facebook’s efforts mirror moves by major corporations such as Google, Apple, Target, Walmart and Switch, among many others, which have invested in solar to power their operations.

More than 4,000 companies in the country have installed a solar system on their businesses.

Top 10 corporate solar users in the U.S. in 2017 

1. Target

2. Walmart

3. Prologis

4. Apple

5. Kohl’s

6. Costco

7. General Growth properties

8. IKEA

9. Macy’s

10. Amazon

Source: SEIA

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