Facebook to buy power from wind farm; move tied to innovative OPPD rate

Facebook on Oct. 19 said that it has selected a new Nebraska wind project that will supply power to the social media company’s new data center in Papillion, Neb. The Omaha Public Power District played a key role in bringing the data center to Nebraska through an innovative rate plan.

“To ensure we are able to power our Papillion data center with clean and renewable energy, we came together with Omaha Public Power District to create a new tariff that ensures renewable energy solutions are accessible not just to Facebook, but other companies as well,” Facebook noted in an Oct. 19 post.

“With the new tariff in place, we were able to seek new Nebraska wind projects to meet our goal of powering our Papillion operations with 100 percent clean and renewable energy,” Facebook said.

OPPD in April detailed how it played a key role in helping to bring a new Facebook data center to Papillion, Neb.

The district's rate plan, Rate 261M, "is a unique and powerful example of how OPPD works to meet the needs of large companies, particularly those who seek more renewable energy, while bringing broader economic benefits to all of its 369,500 customer-owners," OPPD said in an April 4 news release.

Wind project expected to add 320 MW to grid

Facebook has selected a new Nebraska wind project to power the Papillion Data Center. “We worked with OPPD and Tradewind Energy to partner on a large new wind farm, known as the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project,” the social media company noted.

The project is located in Dixon County, Nebraska — about 100 miles from the data center — and will create up to 300 additional construction jobs.

The Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project is expected to add 320 MW of wind energy to the electrical grid. Facebook said that 200 MW will be allocated for the data center and 120 MW will be available to other buyers.

“This wind project would not be built without Facebook’s commitment and the energy requirements of our data center,” Facebook said in its post in which it thanked OPPD and Tradewind Energy for their partnership.

OPPD, Facebook collaboration opens opportunities for public power: Burke

OPPD’s collaboration with Facebook related to the data center offers an example of how Facebook can work with public power to create economic development and value throughout the country, said OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke earlier this year.

He made his remarks at the American Public Power Association’s national conference in Orlando, Fla.

OPPD expanding renewable energy portfolio

Meanwhile, with the addition of a new wind power facility, OPPD this past summer said that it is projected to provide approximately 40 percent of its generation from renewable energy sources when the facility comes online, which is currently scheduled to occur in late 2019.

A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources will build the 160-megawatt Sholes wind facility in Wayne County, Nebraska. Construction is slated to begin in March 2019 and it is expected to be operational by December 2019.

OPPD will purchase 100 percent of the facility's wind energy as part of a 20-year agreement.

OPPD notes on its website that it has purchase power agreements with several Nebraska wind farms, scattered across the state from north-central to southeast.

Also, in response to customer interest in solar-powered generation, OPPD is evaluating the potential for a community solar energy project.