Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Facebook on Thursday announced it has opened its $1 billion data center in Los Lunas, the first of what will eventually be six buildings in use by more than 150 employees and contractors, according to the company.
“We are thrilled to announce (the site) has begun serving traffic and is now an important part of our global network of hyper-efficient data centers,” said Facebook in a statement.
The company expects to complete construction on five additional buildings, with about 300 employees, by the end of 2023. When finished, the facility will form two H shapes on a 2.8-million-square-foot campus and will contain a total of 22 “data halls” of servers and related equipment.
Facebook said Thursday it has signed commitments to add 396 megawatts of green energy to the state’s electric grid through eight wind and solar projects. The company estimates the projects will result in an investment of more than $800 million. The eight projects, as previously reported, include a solar array near the data center, two new wind farms in Torrance, Quay and DeBaca counties, and solar facilities in Cibola, Sandoval and Torrance counties.
At a news conference in the finished building, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham thanked the company for bringing national attention and much-needed capital to the state.
“Because of the recession, we really didn’t have the construction industry where we needed it,” said Lujan Grisham. “And who invested in New Mexico? Facebook.”
The data center broke ground in October 2016.
Among information provided by Facebook on Thursday:
• The construction of the data center has so far used 128,000 cubic yards of concrete, 14,600 tons of steel and 4,572 miles of wire. More than 1,100 workers have been on-site each day.
• The company says it has “partnered with the local community to restore the wetlands and stream to the Comanche Creek area in Northern New Mexico.”
• Facebook plans to award its first Community Action grants in a few weeks, grants that “aim to support organizations and initiatives that help to connect the community and increase digital skills.”
Facebook would not disclose the average salary for the 150 employees and contractors.
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 function as a 30-year property tax break, $10 million in Local Economic Development Act funding and up to $1.6 million in gross receipts tax reimbursement annually. The state also offered Facebook access to up to $3 million in Job Training Incentive Program funding, then-Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela told the Journal in 2016, though the agency said earlier this week that Facebook has neither applied to JTIP nor reserved funding from the program.
While the social media giant faces international scrutiny for its handling of user data and other issues, state and local officials have lauded Facebook for its positive impact on the state’s economy. According to Los Lunas’ most recent budget, gross receipts tax revenue jumped by more than 50 percent to $7.4 million during the prior fiscal year “due primarily to the construction of the new Facebook Data Center in Los Lunas, and associated spinoff economic growth from the residential, commercial, retail and industrial sectors.”
The Journal has yet to determine how much water the data center uses. In 2016, Facebook’s sustainability website suggested its data centers use about 25,000 gallons a day. According to an agreement in the LEDA contract, Facebook is guaranteed 1.5 million gallons of water a day for the data center in the project’s initial phase and up to 4.5 million gallons a day after completion of the project.
“The Water Capacity Guarantee is necessary to protect against a worst-case scenario, because it is critical that the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week operation of the data center not be interrupted for any portion of any day due to lack of water,” the agreement says.
A Facebook spokeswoman said in an email that the company would publish annual water usage for the data center once the information is available.
In a video played during the news conference, Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego said his father herded sheep in the area where the data center now stands. Asked by the Journal what he thought his father would say about the project, Griego said he can’t be sure because his father died when Griego was very young. “But I think he’d be happy knowing the people here are making in a day what he would make in a whole month,” Griego said.