Facebook bringing $1-billion data center to Virginia

Facebook invests $1 billion in Virginia

Facebook is coming to Henrico County.

The company's $750 million investment in a new data center in White Oak Technology Park is wired to a Dominion Energy plan to build up to $250 million in solar power facilities across Virginia that would be paid for through a special rate for Facebook and other big customers. "We now have more data centers than any state in America".

The facility, which will sit on about 328 acres near the Technology Boulevard-Portugee Road intersection, is expected to open sometime in 2019.

"I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership", Governor McAuliffe said in a prepared statement.

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Company officials said it would be one of the most advanced and energy-efficient data centers 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".

Facebook had made clear that it wants its new facility - initially nearly 1 million square feet and eventually up to 2.5 million square feet - to operate with a minimal effect on the environment and natural resources. The addition of the other three buildings could create another 140 permanent jobs.

Facebook's data center campus in Richmond is expected to take up almost 1 million square feet. "We are a proactive community that strives to attract new businesses in key sectors and ensure the success of our existing businesses". The largest data center operators there, including Amazon Web Services, Equinix, and Digital Realty Trust, have all pledged to power their infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy, which means there are lots of potential future customers for Dominion's new tariff besides Facebook.

McAuliffe, who has come under fire from environmentalists for his support of the Dominion-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline to transport natural gas across the state, said the arrangement intensifies the state's commitment to promoting renewable energy. Facebook will be buying the energy under a new renewable-energy tariff the social media company worked with the utility, Dominion Energy Virginia, to create.

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Facebook will receive about $19 million in state tax exemptions through 2035, according to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

While hyper-scale data center operators like Facebook, Alphabet, and Microsoft may be keen to power their massive computing facilities with renewable energy, it's not a product that's readily available from all energy providers in the US. In a unique deal with Dominion Energy, Facebook will be paying extra to support solar power.

"Virginia had been back of the pack but now we're leading in solar generation", the governor said.

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