Dominion Energy Virginia has announced it will add new solar generation to the power grid to serve a new state-of-the-art data center Facebook plans to build in suburban Richmond, Va.
Facebook announced Thursday it has selected a location in eastern Henrico County as home to its eighth data center in the U.S. This was made possible through a new innovative renewable rate option designed by Dominion Energy Virginia and Facebook that will allow large energy users such as Facebook to meet their needs through the addition of renewable energy sources.
“Access to clean energy is joining reliability and price as important considerations when businesses decide to locate their operations,” says Robert M. Blue, president and CEO of Dominion Energy’s Power Delivery Group. “We are pleased we have been able to develop a solution for Facebook that meets all those requirements and creates a model that can be used by other large businesses, as well. It opens the door to attracting more businesses and more jobs for the communities we serve.”
“We know from experience that when people come together, they can do a lot of good in the world,” says Bobby Hollis, director of global energy at Facebook. “We came together with Dominion Energy Virginia to create a new tariff that ensures renewable energy solutions are accessible not just to Facebook, but other companies as well. This new opportunity for customers to access renewable energy enables us to get one step closer to our goal of powering 100 percent of our operations with clean and renewable energy.”
“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership,” comments Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “When an industry giant like Facebook selects Virginia for a major operation, it’s proof that our efforts to build an open and welcoming economy that works for everyone are paying off. For many years, Virginia has served as a key hub for global internet traffic, emerging as one of the most active data center markets in the world. Working with companies like Facebook and many others, we are advancing Virginia’s position as a global leader in the technology economy and a world-class home to innovative companies of every size.”
The new data center in Henrico County will be comprised of two separate buildings and administrative space totaling nearly 1 million square feet. Dominion Energy Virginia says it plans to construct multiple solar facilities in the state (sites still to be determined) to both meet Facebook’s needs and benefit all of its customers.
The Facebook data center would be served under a new renewable rate option called Schedule RF (renewable facility), which Dominion Energy Virginia plans to file with the Virginia State Corporation Commission later this month. If approved, Schedule RF would allow Facebook to offset its annual energy needs with clean, renewable energy delivered to the grid. It would also create opportunities for other large companies wishing to make the same commitment and would provide broader economic benefits to all of Dominion Energy Virginia’s 2.5 million customers. The energy company says this new product offering would ultimately lead to new business opportunities. As a secondary economic impact, millions of dollars of new renewable energy projects would be built in the state.
Dominion Energy Virginia says it and Facebook worked extensively on creating the Schedule RF structure to meet customer needs. To qualify for the voluntary and experimental rate option, a customer must bring new electrical load and agree to purchase environmental attributes from renewable energy sources as defined in the Code of Virginia. Through Schedule RF, Facebook will support energy expected to come from the sun.
Dominion Energy Virginia says it is actively growing the market for clean energy, and Schedule RF will further support diversification of the company’s generation portfolio for the good of all customers. The company’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan calls for at least 5,200 MW of new solar generation by 2042, enough to power 1.3 million homes at peak output.
“Facebook is the latest partner we have in the renewable energy arena,” says Blue. “We remain ambitious and forward-thinking, and welcome any business or corporation to come to Virginia and see what we have to offer.”