Facebook Prineville Plant Going Totally Solar


(Photo by Gratia PRW)

Gov. Brown Joins Civic & Power Utility Leaders for Major Announcement

Facebook’s sprawling “hyperscale” data center complex in Prineville is going totally solar and will be operated completely by renewable energy capacity thanks to an ambitious collaboration announced between the social media giant and local civic and electrical utility leaders.Officials from Pacific Power, Facebook, Crook County and the City of Prineville joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown at the City Plaza recently to announce that Facebook’s Prineville Data Center will be supported by 100 percent renewable energy from new solar developments. Pacific Power is partnering with Facebook to build a total of six new solar farms, including two projects totaling 100 megawatts in the Prineville area.

Local leaders say the collaboration helps fuel Prineville’s growing data center industry, supports the city’s economic growth, and brings new cost-effective resources onto Pacific Power’s system while fulfilling Facebook’s long-term sustainability goals.
The Pacific Power and Facebook partnership will result in 437 megawatts of new solar developments and the joint effort puts Oregon and the City of Prineville at the center of a solution that both supports development of new renewable resources and provides economic development benefits for the state and local community.

“This partnership bolsters Prineville’s 21st century model for a small-town,” Governor Brown said. “With projects like these, we continue to demonstrate that Oregon is ready for the clean energy economy of the future.

“We have a proud tradition of environmental stewardship and Oregon is rich in renewable energy resources. Meeting the challenge of climate change and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive goals, rather they are both moral and economic imperatives.”

For Facebook, leveraging renewable resources to power its data centers and finding strong partners to help develop these solutions, have been a priority.

“Our work with Pacific Power to develop new solar resources represents a significant milestone for our hyper-efficient Prineville Data Center. We are committed to supporting 100 percent renewable energy, and we are thrilled to have found a solution for our first data center,” said Peter Freed, Facebook’s energy strategy manager.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a few years now — it’s been one of the top priorities for the Prineville site to work towards 100 percent renewable energy for the facility. “We are proud to be a part of the Prineville community, and look forward to a continued partnership with the city and the state of Oregon.”

Pacific Power Senior Vice President for External Affairs and Customer Solutions Scott Bolton said, “It is a deep source of pride that through this collaborative leadership we will benefit some 1.8 million Pacific Power customers across the West in the form of lower overall costs for all our users.

“We are committed to communities and to creating the framework for economic development opportunities such as this in Central Oregon which support growth and prosperity — it is a triple bottom line win.

“Good things happen when you are committed to a community, and as a 100-year-old company we are only as successful as the people we serve. When rural Oregon prospers, all of Oregon prospers.”

Since 2011, when Facebook opened the doors to its first data center in Prineville, the unemployment rate has decreased from 17 percent to 6.5 percent today. Along with job growth, stronger infrastructure has come to the area, including new roads, parks and an elementary school. Education benefits have come from grants, including support from Facebook, and upgrades to school curriculums, including more STEM education opportunities.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford paid tribute to the latest development, saying, “As we continue the data centers growth path, it is going to bring more jobs to our community. And that’s what we need; we need to continually add family wage jobs to our community.”

“We are expanding from our timber roots to a future with greater business diversity and a workforce with broader skills,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Jean Roppe.

“It is through contributions and support from organizations like Facebook and Pacific Power, that Prineville is growing new jobs and strengthening our schools with programs that meet the skills needs of tomorrow. This inspires new paths and opportunities for future generations, right here in town.”

As a company serving Oregon’s rural communities, part of Pacific Power’s mission is to seek out opportunities to power innovation and ideas that bring strength to the cities and customers it serves and provide support for the future.

“At Pacific Power, we believe in the power of partnership. As a 100-year company with a long history of serving smaller communities across Oregon, we believe progress is best achieved when business and community come together,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power.

“We view this partnership as a way for Facebook to meet its sustainability goals and for Prineville and its neighboring Central Oregon communities to grow and thrive, while delivering cost-effective resources to all of our customers.” The solar-power project is anticipated to be online by the end of 2020.

Late last year, Facebook announced that it was to build two more massive data centers on its Prineville campus, where it has already spent more than $1 billion building three huge structures and a smaller, “cold storage” facility. The social media innovators signed a new agreement for property tax exemptions for the facilities in the same vein as prior deals that have already saved the company more than $70 million.

About Pacific Power
Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 740,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. The company works to meet growing energy demand while protecting and enhancing the environment. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with 1.9 million customers in six western states Information about Pacific Power is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via pacificpower.net.

Facebook in Prineville
Employees: More than 200, including contractors, expected to rise to 390 with latest two new data centers.
Total investment to date: More than $1 billion in buildings and computers.
Facilities: Facebook already has three full-sized data centers in Prineville and a smaller, “cold storage” building that stores old photos and online status updates.
New buildings: 970,000 square feet, in addition to 1.2 million square feet in existing space.
Local government revenues include permit fees and franchise fees generated by Facebook’s power use.



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Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

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