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Facebook Backs Nebraska Wind Farm to Power Papillion Data Center

Speaking of wind power, Facebook is jump-starting a stalled wind farm in Nebraska, just fifteen crow-flying miles southwest of SDGOP chairman Dan Lederman’s house in Dakota Dunes:

The upcoming Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project will distribute $80 million in property tax and landowners payments over the first 20 years of its existence, according to officials at Enel Green Power North America Inc.

Additionally, Enel Green Power is spending $430 million to build Rattlesnake Creek and it’ll be the second largest wind farm in the Cornhusker State upon completion.

The 320-megawatt wind farm is being built [southwest] of Sioux City, across 32,000 acres between the towns of Allen, Emerson and Wakefield [link mine; Ty Rushing, “New Facebook Wind Farm to Cost $430M,” Sioux City Journal, 2017.11.16].

For perspective, Dakota Access reps told out PUC that their pipeline should generate around $13.7 million in annual tax revenue for South Dakota, mostly in property taxes. Over 20 years, that’s over three times as much revenue as the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project. But Rattlesnake Creek doesn’t require eminent domain and doesn’t pose ongoing hazards to drain tile and water quality.

200 megawatts out of the wind farm’s 320 megawatts will power Facebook’s new data center in Papillion.

Funny—Mark Zuckerberg visited South Dakota this summer; how come Governor Daugaard didn’t invite him back for the buffalo round-up and Governor’s hunt with all those other CEOs to talk about investing in South Dakota’s great wind and tech potential?


  1. Robert McTaggart 2017-11-16 12:07

    Will the facility be powered by that wind energy alone?

    The remainder will likely come from natural gas. I don’t think they will stop doing things when the wind dies down.

    That means there would be a pipeline involved in transporting said natural gas. True, one would not be transporting some type of oil or its derivatives, but one cannot say that the energy delivered to the facility would be “pipeline-free”.

  2. jerry 2017-11-16 12:17

    Exciting news for sure and what a great idea for consumers and for the planet. Facebook helped deliver trump so it is only fitting that it helps to deliver a different kind of hot air for energy.

  3. Robert McTaggart 2017-11-16 12:29

    If those pipelines leak, the methane is at least 25 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

    If the wind/gas combo displaces coal, it is better for the next couple of decades. But if economic growth and population growth continues, the emissions from the increasing energy consumption will catch up to and surpass today’s levels.

    If they use the wind energy when it is available and reduce consumption when it is not, then no back-up would be necessary. They could certainly do more overnight when the wind is more abundant.

  4. leslie 2017-11-16 12:38

    Climate scientists warn that temperatures must be kept within 3.6°F (2°C) warming above preindustrial temperatures to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, that goal is seeming harder to achieve.
    The climate assessment warns that without major reductions in emissions, global temperatures could hit 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century.

  5. Robert McTaggart 2017-11-16 12:53

    Politically, nobody is going to win an election promising zero or negative growth (I think it would be a mistake for either party to go down that road). But with growth comes increasing carbon from the natural gas part of this combo.

    We either have to change how industry works (i.e. asynchronous to match the energy supply), or produce clean energy whenever we want it. That either means energy storage and wind/solar/hydro/geothermal work, or you need to add nuclear to make up the difference.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-17 07:02

    Wherever the FB center’s additional power comes from, the point here is that a lot of it is coming from wind power made in Nebraska, and the center itself is in Nebraska, both generating revenue for Nebraska, not South Dakota, which has more wind potential.

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