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Facebook goes solar to power Oregon data centers

July 18, 2018
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FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2013, file photo, Chuck Goolsbee, site director for Facebook's Prineville data centers, shows the computer servers that store users' photos and other data, at the Facebook site in Prineville, Ore. Facebook and Pacific Power are teaming up to construct solar projects that will produce enough power to offset what the social media giant consumes at its data centers in Prineville. The companies along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the deal Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Andy Tullis/The Bulletin via AP, File)
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FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2013, file photo, Chuck Goolsbee, site director for Facebook's Prineville data centers, shows the computer servers that store users' photos and other data, at the Facebook site in Prineville, Ore. Facebook and Pacific Power are teaming up to construct solar projects that will produce enough power to offset what the social media giant consumes at its data centers in Prineville. The companies along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the deal Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Andy Tullis/The Bulletin via AP, File)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (AP) — Facebook and Pacific Power said Wednesday they are teaming up to construct solar projects that will produce enough power to offset what the social media giant consumes at its data centers in Prineville, Oregon.

The solar projects — two near Prineville and four in Utah — will generate 437 megawatts of power when completed by the end of 2020.

Data centers use large amounts of energy to run and cool the computers inside. The solar power for Facebook’s Prineville campus is roughly equivalent to the energy use of 100,000 Northwest homes. The company declined to say how much it will cost to build the solar projects or how the cost of the clean energy will compare to what it pays now, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The companies along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the deal at an event in Prineville.

“This partnership bolsters Prineville’s 21st century model for a small town,” Brown said. “With projects like these, we continue to demonstrate that Oregon is ready for the clean energy economy of the future.”

Facebook, drawn by tax breaks, has three data centers in the Central Oregon community and is adding two more.

“It’s great to be seeing green energy development happening in places like Prineville,” Cesia Kearns, a deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, told The Bend Bulletin. “Pragmatically speaking, it’s the cheapest power option right now. Hopefully this will continue to be a trend Pacific Power will embrace.”

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