New Mexico town woos Facebook data centre with generous tax breaks
Thu 15 Sep 2016
Having failed to garner adequate tax concessions from other states after a summer of deal-broking, Facebook has finally settled on the village of Los Lunas in New Mexico as the location for its seventh data centre.
Ken Patchett, Director of Facebook’s Data Center Operations in the West Region, announced the deal on a new Facebook page for the site, describing the projected Los Lunas facility as ‘one of the most advanced, energy-efficient data centers in the world’, and stating that construction will begin next month.
‘The process for finding a location for a new data center takes years, and it’s an important one because these communities become our homes. In our search, we look for great partnerships with the local community, a strong pool of local talent for construction and long-term operations staff, and access to clean and renewable energy.’
A more cynical take on the choice would be to consider that Facebook has been attempting such swingeing deals in five other cities across various states that it has taken some considerable time to find a municipality willing to grant huge concessions in exchange for very short-term employment boosts resulting in a data centre with typically Spartan staffing levels.
The existence of Los Lunas as an alternative site was made known during the Utah negotiations at least.
Los Lunas, which has a population under 15,000, agreed to waive all property taxes on the proposed build for thirty years in exchange for a fixed annual fee from the social media giant, beginning at $50,000 and in aggregate not exceeding $500,000.
In August the state of Utah rejected the $250 million tax breaks that Facebook was demanding to set up a data centre in Salt Lake City, with locals voicing fears that making such a huge concession would set an eroding precedent for the state. Additionally, Utah balked at the 4.8 million gallons of water per day that Facebook considered requisite to the cooling operations of the build.
Regarding cooling for the 510,000-square-foot Los Lunas facility, Patchett reveals that it will be achieved ‘using indirect evaporative cooling systems that emphasize efficiency while protecting our servers from the frequent dust storms that occur in New Mexico.’
A statement from the office of Gov. Susana Martinez at the time of the Los Lunas announcement declared that Facebook will initially be pouring $250 million into the establishment of the facility, commenting “Facebook is a stellar, cutting-edge, high-tech company, and it’s an honor to welcome them to New Mexico… Making our state more competitive for jobs and new investment is critical to growing our private sector and diversifying our economy.”
In January Facebook announced another ‘most advanced data center in the world’, at the small Dublin village of Clonee, set to open in 2018. Like the Los Lunas facility and all of the company’s data centres, the Irish build leverages Facebook’s own open source Open Compute framework.
The Los Lunas choice is some compensation for New Mexico, which lost out to Nevada in a bid to host Tesla’s battery factory, and the 6,500 jobs which were to accompany the project.