Rocky Mountain Power is building three new solar energy projects in Utah, funded by Facebook.
The projects are being paid for in full by Facebook with power purchase agreements (PPAs) which fund renewable generation. The projects will help offset the energy used by Facebook's Eagle Mountain data center, a facility which was built in 2018, and is already being expanded. These PPAs follow an agreement last year, also in Utah, to pay First Solar for the 122MW Cove Mountain 2 solar plant
Land of the Saints
Facebook announced two years ago that it plans to be fully renewable by the end of this year (2020), these three projects get it 235MW closer to that goal. They are: the 80MW Graphite Solar farm in Carbon County, Rocket Solar (also 80MW) in Box Elder County, and the 75MW Horeshoe Solar farm in Tooele County.
The first one, Graphite Solar, is developed by rPlus Energies, the other two are from D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) and Enyo Renewable Energy. All of them are developed under Rocky Mountain Power’s Schedule 34 green energy tariff, which allows large customers to purchase renewable energy generated on their behalf.
Along with the 122MW First Solar deal from 2019 and previous deals with Rocky Mountain, Facebook's total solar power production in the region will be 694 megawatts, which is equivalent to 63 percent of the solar energy currently produced in Utah.
“We are so happy to partner with Rocky Mountain Power once more to bring an additional 235 megawatts of new solar energy to the Utah grid,” said Urvi Parekh, Head of renewable energy at Facebook. “This partnership has not only allowed us to make nearly 700 megawatts of new renewable energy projects a reality but helped bring additional investment and jobs to these Utah communities.”
“We applaud Facebook for committing to clean, renewable energy to power its data centers and working with Rocky Mountain Power to access the superb solar power available in Utah,” said Luigi Resta, CEO, rPlus Energies. “Projects like these, led by companies like Facebook, will drive the transition to a low carbon economy and work to mitigate the global challenge of climate change. Additionally, we look forward to developing projects that energize the local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue and continuing to grow the energy economy that is a rich tradition of Utah rural history."
Rocky Mountain Power operates in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. It is part of PacifiCorp, whose other division Pacific Power operates in Oregon, northern California, and Washington State.
Alongside projects like this, PacifiCorp has issued a request for more similar proposals. It wants to install over 1,800MW of new solar, co-located with 600MW of battery energy storage capacity, and over 1,900MW of wind resources by 2024. The company says this is a "least-cost, least-risk" mix of resources for customers.