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Facebook announces full Los Lunas buildout, $1B investment

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Facebook will announce today that it will triple the size of its Los Lunas data center, constructing a total of six buildings and investing more than $1 billion in the project.

The social media giant had so far committed to a data center with two buildings, though the company had long said a full six-phase build-out was possible. Facebook is scheduled to make the announcement this morning, alongside Gov. Susana Martinez and other state and local dignitaries.

In a statement distributed before the event, Martinez called the expansion “encouraging momentum” and pledged to continue “using powerful tools and reforms to compete for more jobs and investment.”

More than 650 construction workers have been on site each day at the Facebook data center in Los Lunas. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

To entice Facebook to choose New Mexico over Utah for its seventh data center, local and state officials gave the company $30 billion in industrial revenue bonds that provide a 30-year property tax break, $10 million in Local Economic Development Act funding, access to $3 million in Job Incentive Training Program money, and up to $1.6 million in gross receipts tax reimbursement annually.

Earlier this month, Los Lunas officials reported that gross receipts tax revenue had increased $2 million for the first quarter of the fiscal year, compared to the year before. The increase was attributable almost entirely to the data center.

Once operating, each data center will employ about 50 people in permanent positions.

The construction jobs are more significant: as many as 1,000 workers on site during peak construction activity, according to Facebook. The company has said an average of 150 workers were on site daily during the project’s first phase; the number jumped to 650 workers in September.

In a statement, Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy, said the company has found a “strong pool of talent” for the data center construction, and expects construction crews will be working on the site “well into 2023.”

The company broke ground in October 2016 on the first $250 million phase of the project, expected to be operational late next year, which includes a 510,000-square-foot building and administrative space. In July, Facebook announced it would add a second, 460,000-square-foot building.

Under an arrangement made with Public Service Company of New Mexico, the data center will run on renewable energy supplied by three new solar plants. The plants represent a $45 million investment from PNM and are being built and supplied by Affordable Solar and Array Technologies.

When asked why Facebook was announcing an investment of over $1 billion and not $1.5 billion – $250 million multiplied by six buildings – a Facebook spokesman said it was possible that prices could change on equipment and materials, or that the data center’s design could evolve during the construction period.