RECAP: Democrats Work to Bring Facebook Jobs to New Mexico

New Mexico – With New Mexico in the running for a Facebook data center, Democrats in the state are working to bring the good-paying jobs to the state.

Democratic champions U.S. Senator Tom Udall, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, U.S Representative Ben Ray Luján, U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas made headlines for their work to secure Facebook data center location in Los Lunas.

N.M. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who represents Los Lunas, wrote an open letter to Facebook on the Facebook platform promoting New Mexico as the best choice for their data facility.

The new facility is also seen as a boon for new energy with the promise to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The Albuquerque Journal reported this week:

New Mexico lawmakers, the business community, and environmental advocates have expressed nearly unilateral support for the data center. In July, the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter expressing support for the project to PRC chairwoman Valerie Espinoza. On Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas sent a press release indicating his support.

Read coverage below:

KOAT Action 7 News

Attorney General urges utility regulators to approve Facebook plan

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s attorney general is urging utility regulators to approve a power-supply contract for a proposed Facebook data center after reviewing potential costs to other electricity consumers.

Attorney General Hector Balderas submitted a three-page memo on Thursday to the Public Regulation Commission. The commission may decide as soon as next week on an application by Public Service Co. of New Mexico to build new solar energy facilities that would offset much of the power consumption at the data center in Los Lunas.

Facebook also is considering a location in Utah for the facility. Electric utilities in New Mexico and Utah are urging quick approval of power-supply plans.

Balderas says the additional renewable energy sources would diversify power supplies without burdening residential or small-business utility customers with additional costs.

Albuquerque Journal

NM delegation pushes for Facebook data center

By Marie C. Baca / Journal Staff Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After receiving a single public comment, state regulators have decided to hold a hearing next week on a solar energy plan for a possible Facebook data center – despite a request to expedite the matter so New Mexico would be more competitive with Utah in landing the huge deal.

Facebook is considering building a data center in Los Lunas, and the Village Council already has approved a $30 billion industrial revenue bond measure for the project.

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation sent a letter to the PRC last week, expressing support for the project.

“A Facebook data center in New Mexico has the potential to provide over $500 million in capital investment for construction and over $20 million in annual operation expenditures in local wages and compensation over the lifetime of the facility,” the lawmakers wrote.

Public Service Company of New Mexico had asked state regulators to approve a mechanism for providing energy to the center, which would include, among other things, construction of a solar facility.

The utility had asked the PRC to waive the hearing, but the agency said it would do so only if no public comments were registered by July 27. One comment was submitted on that day by an Albuquerque homeowner inquiring about how the project would affect residential solar producers.

PRC Chairwoman Valerie Espinoza said she felt the hearing was an important step in fulfilling the agency’s obligations to the public.

The hearing will be held on Tuesday.

New Mexico is in the running with Utah to be the site of the data center. Utah’s public service commission is expected to complete its review by Aug. 31.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

The congressional delegation letter, dated July 22, was signed by Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, and Reps. Steve Pearce, Republican, and Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats.

It was addressed to Espinoza.

“Los Lunas is an excellent site for a Facebook data center with convenient interstate access and infrastructure already in place,” the letter said. “The state has been a leader in clean energy development, making New Mexico an ideal fit for the data center, which is planned to be powered with one hundred percent renewable energy.”

Espinoza said she often receives letters of support from lawmakers or constituents, but this is the first time she’s seen one from congressional lawmakers.

“I recognize that they wrote in strong support of the project,” she said. “But this is an open case. We have to do what is in the best interest of the public, whatever that may be.”

PNM is specifically looking for the PRC to approve a special service contract for Facebook’s electric needs. The utility is also seeking a special service rate that would set Facebook’s renewable energy at a fixed rate for 10 years, a power purchase agreement authorizing PNM to buy solar electricity from PNM’s affiliate company, and a “green energy rider” that would allow PNM to procure renewable energy for a single customer.

PNM has said none of the utility’s 530,000 customers would absorb costs from the project, which would be entirely funded by Facebook.

In June, the Los Lunas Village Council approved the industrial revenue bonds for the center, although Facebook’s identity was not disclosed to the council at the time.

In their support of the project, the delegation wrote: “We believe New Mexico requires strong leaders to create new opportunities that will fulfill the promises of economic recovery. We encourage you to act – as permitted by the Commission’s rules and regulations – to do what is appropriate to help secure new investments in the state’s future and to support Los Lunas’ bid to bring Facebook to New Mexico,” the lawmakers wrote.

Albuquerque Business First

What’s Next for Facebook?

Joe Cardillo, Reporter, Albuquerque Business First

Efforts to bring Facebook to New Mexico appear to be moving forward.

The tech giant is considering the state for a massive data center, and Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM) is asking for expedited approval of a special services contract from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission by end of August in order to stay competitive with Rocky Mountain Power Co., which is advancing a similar proposal in Utah.

The next step in the process is a public hearing slated for August 9 in Santa Fe.

So far, feedback on the project has been mostly positive. Multiple consumer and renewable energy advocate groups have filed motions to intervene in the case, but no major concerns were submitted to the PRC, and only one public comment was submitted by the July 27 deadline.

NM Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez also said in an interview with Construction Reporter News that he is optimistic the PRC would see the importance to the entire state. New Mexico’s congressional delegation, consisting of U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich along with U.S. Representatives Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham, sent a letter to PRC chairwoman Valerie Espinoza expressing support for the project and noting its potential to “provide over $500 million in capital investment for construction and over $20 million in annual operation expenditures in local wages and compensation over the lifetime of the facility.”

Facebook has signed agreements to pay for the development of three additional solar farms needed to ensure its electricity use is offset by 100 percent renewable energy, and would pay around $31 million in electricity costs each year to PNM, according to filings with the PRC.