When Walton EMC leaders announced the co-op’s Community Solar Program in 2015, it was immediately embraced by the co-op’s consumer-owners. In less than three years, our program has grown from one to three sun power sites to satisfy demand. It’s a successful program to be sure, and one that others in the nation are modeling.
Walton EMC & Facebook Partnership
Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal confirmed that social media giant Facebook is building a nearly 1 million-square-foot data center in the aptly named Social Circle near where the Newton, Walton and Morgan county borders meet. That announcement also included the news that Walton EMC and Facebook are partnering to power the data center with 100 percent clean and renewable solar energy.
The Newton Data Center will be among the largest single electrical loads in Georgia. In addition to being Walton EMC’s single largest electricity customer, the Facebook complex will be one of the largest electrical consumers served by a cooperative anywhere in the U.S.
An innovative power supply agreement with Facebook calls for the co-op to install or contract for hundreds of acres of solar panels on Georgia’s electric grid to meet the new data center’s exceptional energy demand. This massive solar energy project will create thousands of construction jobs that will boost both the local and state economy.
Under Georgia law, Facebook could have chosen any utility to provide electricity to the new data center, but they selected Walton EMC. The co-op’s community-supported solar energy program currently generates 6.5 megawatts of clean electricity annually.
The Newton location — Facebook’s ninth such state-of-the-art facility in the country — will continue the technology company’s reputation for having the most advanced, energy-efficient facilities in the world. It will use 38 percent less electricity than similar data centers.
Walton EMC employees have the experience and expertise to help Facebook achieve this ambitious energy-efficiency goal. And, once again, we hope other electric utilities will follow our lead. We believe that Facebook’s innovative renewable energy solution can serve as a positive economic and environmental template for future industrial developments throughout the nation.
It’s a pleasure to partner with a company that has goals and missions similar to Walton EMC’s. One of the bedrock principles that our cooperative operates by is “concern for community.” Likewise, Facebook has shown that it cares about the communities where it chooses to locate its facilities. That extends to caring for our environment.
Pre-construction work has already begun at the Newton County site. Likewise, Walton EMC employees are gearing up to support the selection of solar projects in Georgia. Facebook executives plan to have the facility fully operational by the first quarter of 2020.