Attorney: Facebook power deal could be “sea change” for renewables


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The green energy tariff regulators approved for the $250 million Facebook data center being built in Los Lunas could trigger a “sea change” for renewable energy in the state, according to public utilities attorney Bruce Throne.

Throne made the comments Wednesday evening at an event hosted by the Santa Fe Solar Energy Association and the Santa Fe Sustainable Everything Advocates. Throne was retained by Facebook to guide the social media giant through negotiations with Public Service Company of New Mexico and the state’s regulatory process, though he told his audience at the Santa Fe Public Library’s Southside branch that he was making his presentation as a private attorney and not on Facebook’s behalf.

At the event, Throne expanded on the argument made by environmental advocates when Facebook’s contract with PNM was facing regulatory approval: that the green energy tariff, also known as the green rider, could act as a template for other organizations to secure special rates with utilities for renewable resources. Those special rates could in turn attract new businesses to the state and add new solar and wind facilities to the power grid.

“This is an incredibly important tool for economic development,” said Throne, who referred to statistics showing the solar energy industry employed 1,899 people in New Mexico as of November 2015.

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