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Facebook partners with New Mexico solar firms in $45 million project

Fri 3 Feb 2017

Facebook has teamed up with local utility and solar energy companies as part of its commitment to green initiatives at its Los Lunas data centre in New Mexico, currently under construction.

At a gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Republican governor Susana Martinez, officials from the Public Service Company of New Mexico, as well as regional economic development leaders and representatives from local solar firm Affordable Solar, announced the $45 million (approx. £36 million) project.

The majority of the budget will cover the installation, to be coordinated by Affordable Solar. Albuquerque-based Array Technologies was also selected to provide the tracking systems for the new panels, allowing for the infrastructure to follow sun rays and maximise sun exposure.

The solar plant, which will power the social media giant’s data centre, will consist of three 10-megawatt sites made up of tens of thousands of panels. The solar project will span over half a million square feet in the first phase alone.

The first of the farms will be situated right next to the data centre and construction will begin later in 2017, for completion in January next year. All three sites of the solar project are expected to become fully operational from May 2018.

Alongside the data centre construction, the new solar investment is expected to spur significant economic activity, including more than 40 additional full-time positions at Affordable Solar. Each proposed solar site is also expected to generate between 50 and 100 construction jobs.

“It’s more important than ever before that we keep fighting for the tools and reforms that are helping us bring more jobs and investment to New Mexico,” said Martinez.

New Mexico currently has the second-highest unemployment rate in the States, after Alaska.

“This project clearly demonstrates some of the best possible outcomes of an economic development project: supporting a local renewable energy business, creating local construction jobs and helping to grow our economy here in New Mexico,” added President and CEO of energy holding company PNM Resources, Pat Vincent-Collawn.

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