The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Facebook’s new Papillion data center goes live

June 18, 2019 | Jodi Baker | commercial and industrial, customers

Nearly two years after announcing its plans to come to Papillion, Facebook’s newest data center is live, online, and serving social media traffic. If you’re posting your status, sharing an Instagram photo or sending a message on What’s App, your data may very well be funneled through the facility on Highway 50, between Schram Road and Highway 370.

But Facebook’s presence means far more than data capacity.

OPPD partnership

For Nebraska, it’s meant an investment of more than $1 billion, including 1,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs, so far. And that’s just for the first phase. The second  phase, set for completion in 2023, will bring more construction and another 100 permanent jobs.

During a grand opening event June 13, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said, “OPPD was really the linchpin in helping make this deal happen, because they were able to offer Facebook 100% renewable energy.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at the grand opening event.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at the grand opening event.

OPPD’s worked with Facebook to develop Rate 261M, which gives large customers flexibility in how they meet their energy goals.

“OPPD has been a tremendous partner to us,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of Infrastructure for Facebook, who traveled to Papillion from the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters for the grand opening.

“We really relied on them for this partnership to make this project a reality.”

OPPD President & CEO Tim Burke said “We have a great working relationship with Facebook, working with them on our green tariff rate, which has been recognized across the world.”

The Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in northeast Nebraska will power the Papillion Data Center. Enel Green Power North America owns and operates the wind farm. That project created 300 construction jobs and a $13 million investment in the local economy.

Exterior of the first of two buildings is complete on Facebook's Papillion data center campus. It is the size of four football fields.
The first of two buildings is complete on Facebook’s Papillion data center campus. It is the size of four football fields.

STEM education

Facebook’s investments go well beyond construction and employment.

The company is partnering with the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation to invest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at the high-school level. The company’s skilled and technical trades program will build on the school’s existing STEM education to benefit more than 1,000 students the first year alone.

“This fall, we will also launch our Community Action Grants program,” said Melanie Roe, a Facebook spokeswoman. “This program provides funding to schools and qualified organizations who support innovative projects and programs including those improving STEM education.”

OPPD recognized

The governor applauded Facebook’s investment not just in Nebraska, but in its people.

“When Facebook invests here and starts creating these jobs, it helps people to really say, hey, I want to get into that field,” Ricketts said. “So we’re developing these young people to take these jobs that Facebook has available.”

He added, “This really does tell people, Nebraska’s a great place to invest.”

Burke said more companies have inquired about OPPD’s Rate 261M. He expects customers will be hearing about more investment announcements in the future.

As for Facebook, Burke said, “This is a great company that every community, every utility, wants to have in their service territory. They’re community-minded. They truly live out OPPD’s core values – passion to serve. They honor their communities. And they really care for each other.”

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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