Cooperative collaboration driving rural economic development across state of Georgia
MONROE, Ga., December 19, 2019 – Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), a consumer-owned utility with a reputation for energy innovation, has executed contracts with Silicon Ranch on behalf of Facebook for two new solar projects totaling 125 megawatts (MWAC) as part of its agreement to supply 100 percent renewable energy for Facebook’s data center in Newton County, Georgia.
The agreements represent the third and fourth solar projects for the growing partnership in Georgia that includes Facebook, Walton EMC, and Silicon Ranch. Facebook chose Walton EMC as the power supplier for its Newton Data Center when it announced the facility in March 2018. Today’s announcement comes one month after the partners announced a 107 MWAC solar project in Jeff Davis County and just one week after they officially dedicated their first project together, a 102.5 MWAC project in Early County. In total, including four projects with Silicon Ranch, Walton EMC has executed six contracts on behalf of Facebook totaling 435 MWAC of new renewable energy to support their operations in Georgia.
“One of our core cooperative principles at Walton EMC is ‘Concern for Community,’ and each of our partners shares this fundamental value,” said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. “By working together with a shared vision to do what’s right for Georgia, we’re able to work with Facebook and Silicon Ranch to drive positive economic impacts in rural communities across the state.”
On behalf of Facebook and Walton EMC, Silicon Ranch will fund, construct, own, operate and maintain both solar facilities. The company’s Appling Solar Farm will generate 25 MWAC of clean, renewable energy when it comes online in late 2020. The location of the project is Appling County, a rural community in southeast Georgia. Silicon Ranch’s Lumpkin Solar Farm, located in Stewart County in southwest Georgia, is scheduled for completion in 2022 and will produce 100 MWAC of solar energy to serve Facebook’s data center.
Combined the projects will create more than 800 construction jobs, with additional employment for ongoing operation and maintenance, including local ranchers and farmers to care for the land as part of Silicon Ranch’s holistic approach to land management. Under this innovative model, which the company has trademarked as Regenerative EnergyTM, Silicon Ranch keeps the property in agricultural production, enhances biodiversity, and sequesters carbon in the soil. Outcomes are backed by third-party verified standards.
“Throughout our work with Walton EMC and Facebook, we’ve been inspired by their spirit of collaboration and their commitment to doing things the right way,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “Walton EMC’s customer-centric approach has supported Facebook’s meaningful investments in Georgia, and together they’ve produced a multiplier effect resulting in our own significant investments in communities across the state.”
“We are committed to supporting all of Facebook’s operations with 100 percent renewable energy, and we are thrilled to have strong partners such as Walton EMC and Silicon Ranch to help us achieve that ambitious goal for the Newton Data Center,” said Urvi Parekh, Head of Renewable Energy at Facebook. “We are proud to partner with them again for these new projects, which will bring additional investment to rural Georgia and strengthen the solar market in the region.”