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Facebook chooses NM firm to provide solar resources for data center

PNM Resources Inc. subsidiary Public Service Co. of New Mexico has tapped a local company, Affordable Solar, to supply three 10-MW solar farms to supply power for the social media giant Facebook Inc.'s new data center under construction in Los Lunas, N.M.

The privately held solar company will invest $45 million and create 300 new jobs to build the projects, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced Feb. 1.

"Bringing Facebook to New Mexico was a big step in the right direction, but we have to continue building on our progress to diversify our economy and bring even more good jobs to the people of New Mexico," she said in statement.

"PNM is committed to renewable energy, and we're excited to be working with Affordable Solar to expand our solar capacity and power the new Facebook data center," added PNM Resources Chairman, President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn.

Another privately held company in Albuquerque, N.M., Array Technologies, will provide equipment that will enable the solar panels to track the sun.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission last year approved PNM's three 25-year contracts with Facebook to deliver solar power at "up to" 4.75 cents per kWh. The entire cost of the power purchase agreements will be passed on to Facebook through a so-called "green energy rider rate," according to regulatory documents.

The first of the three facilities is scheduled to come on line on Jan. 1, 2018, followed by the second project in March and the third facility in May, a PNM spokesman said in an email.

Facebook plans to procure enough renewable energy to cover 100% of the data center's load, which initially is anticipated at 60 MW and could grow to more than 100 MW.

Additional contracts have not been announced.

Facebook is one of several technology companies pledging to cover their operations entirely with renewable energy under the RE100 initiative. Others include Apple Inc., Google Inc. and HP Inc.