A Bright Future for the Tennessee Valley with Facebook

TVA announces a large solar build out for new renewable energy to support Facebook’s $750 million data center in Huntsville, Ala.

NOVEMBER 13, 2018—There’s no doubt about it: Huntsville faces a sunnier future after Facebook announced in June that it will invest $750 million in a new data center located there. But an important part of the deal was a “solar” power play on the part of TVA.

When Facebook approached TVA’s Economic Development team, they had one particular requirement: It wanted to be powered by 100 percent new renewable energy. Could TVA rise to the challenge of providing the data center with all the renewable energy it would require?

No problem, says Tammy Bramlett, director of Business Development and Renewables for TVA. “TVA is committed to solar power, looks to invest in the right projects that will be of most benefit to the people of the Valley,” she says. “Because it brings jobs and prosperity to our region, the Facebook project met that criteria—and we were happy to come on board.”

TVA recognizes that environmental stewardship is one of the top reasons why companies choose to relocate to the Valley.  Facebook is the recent example of TVA’s efforts to recruit businesses who are committed improve the environment and the communities they serve. By proactively working with these businesses, TVA can help them meet their environmental commitment while bring more renewable energy to the Tennessee Valley.

Facebook, for its part, was delighted with the news. “We are committed to supporting our operations with 100 percent renewable energy and look to partner with companies like TVA who offer solutions to help us meet our commitments,” says Bryce Dalley, energy manager for Facebook.

Answering the Call

Almost a year before the deal was announced, TVA sent a request for proposals calling on the nation’s top renewable energy developers to step up to the challenge of building over 375 megawatts of new solar power. They did not know yet that this would be dedicated solely to Facebook. But they answered the call.

Happily, TVA signed contracts with two companies in October of 2018 to fulfill Facebook’s need for clean, renewable energy. Through a partnership with TVA, Facebook’s first Valley-based facility will be powered with 100 percent renewable energy, sourced from two locations and provided by two companies:

  • First Solar will generate 227 megawatts in Colbert County, Ala.
  • NextEra will generate 150 megawatts in Lincoln County, Tenn.

On November 2, TVA and Facebook announced the good news to the world. “This announcement demonstrates TVA’s commitment to invest in renewable energy that attracts high-paying jobs to benefit the communities we serve,” says Doug Perry, TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “This partnership aligns the core values of TVA’s public power model with Facebook’s mission to bring the world closer together—powered by renewable energy.”

Chris Hansen, director of Strategic Pricing and Origination, sees the partnership long-term win-win. “This partnership is also about growing and getting better,” he says. “Once we figured out where our objectives overlapped and how aligned we were, we quickly realized that we could learn a lot from each other. Sharing best practices while we developed this partnership has improved both organizations.”

Facebook is equally enthusiastic about the partnership. “TVA has been a great, responsive partner, and we are looking forward to being a part of the community in Huntsville,” says Dalley.

Look for many other such success stories to be coming soon. “Solar power has a bright future for families in the Tennessee Valley if we can continue to attract top-tier companies like Facebook,” Perry says. “TVA is planning to invest $8 billion in renewable energy over the next 20 years.”