Facebook to build $750M data center in Virginia

WASHINGTON — Facebook will invest $750 million in a new data center in Virginia’s Henrico County at the White Oak Technology Park near Richmond International Airport.

A renewable energy tariff agreement with Dominion Energy will lead to hundreds of millions of additional investment in the construction of solar facilities to serve the new Facebook data center with 100 percent renewable energy.

It will be Facebook’s eighth data center in the U.S.

The project is expected to create about 1,700 construction jobs. The data center itself will ultimately have about 100 full-time employees.

The Facebook data center near Richmond will join more than 650 data centers in Virginia, the majority of which are in Northern Virginia, that employ more than 13,500 people.

A new renewable energy tariff also sealed the deal for Facebook. Created by Dominion and called Schedule RF, it will allow large energy users to meet their needs through the addition of renewable energy sources as a renewable rate option.

“We came together with Dominion Energy Virginia to create a new tariff that ensures renewable energy solutions are accessible not just to Facebook but other companies as well,” said Bobby Hollis, director of Global Energy at Facebook.

“This new opportunity for customers to access renewable energy enables us to get one step closer to our goal of powering 100 percent of our operations with clean and renewable energy.”

Data centers are huge energy consumers, and competitive electric rates are key to decisions for companies as to where to locate them.

As part of the agreement, Dominion Energy will construct multiple solar facilities in the state, although the exact locations have not been determined, to meet Facebook’s needs.

Dominion needs Virginia State Corporation Commission approval for the new renewable rate option. It plans to file its request with the Commission later this month, Dominion said.

To qualify for the voluntary and experimental rate option, a customer must bring new electrical load and agree to purchase environmental attributes from renewable energy sources.

The data center, comprised of two separate buildings, will total nearly 1 million square feet.

Facebook did not say when construction would begin, or be completed.

Facebook was undoubtedly persuaded to choose Virginia for its new data center by a big, recent tax cut approved by the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. The county reduced the business property tax rate on computer and related equipment for data centers from $3.50 per $100 of assessed value to just 40 cents per $100, giving Henrico County the most favorable tax treatment for data centers in Virginia.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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