Walton Electric Membership Corporation Contracts with 200 Megawatts of New Solar Projects for Facebook’s Newton Data Center

Cooperative collaboration building state’s largest solar development project and boosting economy

MONROE, Ga., Dec. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), a consumer-owned utility with a reputation for energy innovation, has executed contracts with two solar developers for three new solar projects as part of its agreement to supply 100 percent renewable energy for Facebook’s data center in Newton County, Georgia. The collaboration is the largest solar development project in Georgia.

Facebook chose Walton EMC as the power supplier for the Newton Data Center when it announced the 970,000 square foot facility in March.

Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar will construct world-class solar power plants that will support the new data center. The facilities will be located in Southwest Georgia.

“We are happy to welcome Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar to the quality partnership of Facebook, Walton EMC and Morgan Stanley to complete the groundbreaking energy supply arrangement for Facebook’s Newton Data Center,” said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. “Our unique agreements will serve as models for similar projects all across the country and bring noteworthy economic rewards locally.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Walton EMC, Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar to bring more than 200 megawatts (mW) of new solar resources to Georgia,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy for Facebook. “We are committed to supporting all of Facebook’s operations with 100 percent renewable energy and these new solar facilities will help us meet that goal for our Newton Data Center. Developing these resources within the same electric grid that supports our data center will bring even more investment to the region.”

The Newton Data Center is Facebook’s ninth such state-of-the-art facility in the country. The centers are among the most advanced, energy-efficient facilities in the world. They use 38 percent less electricity than the average data center.

Economic boon for Georgia
The solar power plants will economically benefit local communities, with ripple effects felt all across the state.

Every facility will add substantial revenue to each county’s tax income which will benefit local school systems.

Construction will create more than 800 jobs, with additional employment for ongoing operation and maintenance. Local labor and local contractors will fill most of these positions.

The total investment of Silicon Ranch and Strata Solar will reach more than $230 million. Collectively, this is the largest solar development in Georgia, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Silicon Ranch Project

  • Location: Early County, Georgia
  • Size (electrical): 102.5 mW (AC)
  • Expected Completion: 2019
  • Jobs created: construction – 400; operation and maintenance ­– two to three plus local contractors

The Early County facility will deploy the first locally-produced solar modules from Hanwha Q CELLS’s new manufacturing facility in Georgia, which is also the largest in the United States.

Strata Solar Projects

  • Location: Calhoun and Colquitt Counties, Georgia
  • Size (electrical): Calhoun – 80 mW (AC); Colquitt – 20 mW (AC)
  • Expected Completion: 2020
  • Jobs created: construction – 400; operation and maintenance ­– two to three plus local contractors

Growing Georgia’s economy with renewable energy
Facebook’s emphasis on siting renewable resources within the same electric grid as its data centers created an opportunity to bring additional investment in solar generation to Georgia.

“Partnering on the project with a customer-focused, consumer-owned electric cooperative helped to inspire the collaboration,” added Matt Kisber, CEO of Silicon Ranch. 

“Facebook and Walton EMC are driven by a ‘concern for community’ and a commitment to the customers they serve. These principles have made them global and national leaders in their respective markets,” said Kisber. “As the long-term owner of every solar project we develop, Silicon Ranch shares these values, and we are proud to support the renewable energy goals of Facebook’s Newton Data Center while bringing an economic shot in the arm to rural Georgia.”

“Innovative companies like Facebook, partnered with customer-focused utilities like Walton EMC, are driving renewable energy growth across the country,” said Markus Wilhelm, CEO of Strata Solar.

“Strata is proud to bring our reputation for quality and efficiency to two more projects in Georgia,” he said. “By partnering on clean energy projects like these, we can grow the Georgia economy while bringing significant benefits to local communities.”

About Walton EMC
Walton EMC is a customer-owned power company that serves accounts over its 10-county service area between Atlanta and Athens, Ga. Its primary focus is providing exceptional service to its 128,000 residential, commercial and industrial customer-owner accounts while also caring for the area’s communities. Learn more at facebook.com/waltonemc.

About Silicon Ranch Corporation
Silicon Ranch is the U.S. solar platform for Shell and one of the largest independent solar power producers in the country. Silicon Ranch develops to own all of its projects for the long-term, a distinction that means the company is deeply committed to its partners and communities and stands behind the performance of its facilities day in and day out. The company’s operating portfolio includes more than 120 facilities across 14 states from New York to California, including the first large-scale solar projects in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. To learn more, visit siliconranch.com and go to facebook.com/siliconranch. 

About Strata Solar
Strata Solar is a leading provider of utility-scale, commercial and industrial solar photovoltaic systems. Strata has constructed over 1 gigawatt (gW) in total solar capacity and maintains a development pipeline of over 3gW. The company’s integrated approach, which includes development, financing, engineering, procurement, construction, operations and maintenance, allows Strata to consistently build quality projects with long-term ownership in mind. Strata is consistently ranked as one of the largest utility-scale solar integrators in the U.S. To learn more, visit stratasolar.com.

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SOURCE Walton EMC

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