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Meta Plans $800M Hyperscale Campus In Idaho As It Continues To Explore New Data Center Markets

Meta is continuing its pattern of developing hyperscale projects far from existing data center hubs, spurring economic activity in new markets and creating demand for green energy. 

Meta's proposed data center in Kuna, Idaho

The social media giant formerly known as Facebook last week announced plans to build a new hyperscale data center in Kuna, Idaho, a bedroom community around 16 miles from downtown Boise.

According to Meta, the company plans to spend around $800M to build what will be its 19th hyperscale campus, a project expected to entail more than 960K SF of data center space by 2025. 

Central elements of the project closely resemble Meta’s other recent hyperscale developments in places like Iowa and Utah. The proposal seems to follow the company’s pattern of building out hyperscale facilities far from existing data center hubs and using its economic clout to drive the development of the renewable energy and connectivity it requires in communities hoping to leverage this infrastructure to attract further development. 

“Meta’s decision to make this $800M investment in Kuna will create high-quality jobs and increased opportunities for the city,” Tom Kealey, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, told the Idaho Statesman. “They will create increased capacity for the city and open further opportunities for more economic development.”

The state of Idaho, and the city of Kuna in particular, have been courting data center developers for some time. In 2020, the state passed a data center tax incentive, similar to those that passed in more than 25 states and that have effectively become a prerequisite for attracting major data center builds. Meta will be the first to take advantage of the new legislation. 

Leaders in Kuna are hoping Meta will serve as an anchor tenant that can build out infrastructure to spur development in the city’s lagging industrial district. Indeed, industry experts say hyperscale data centers — operated by companies like Amazon and Google with the economic clout to provide or help finance infrastructure like power and fiber connectivity — are driving the creation of new hubs for data centers and other tech and industrial facilities.

The city has additionally required Meta to build a $50M water and sewage treatment plant for the city, meant to support new commercial development in the area. 

“This project will have a huge effect on that tax burden balance not only because of its existence, but with the oversizing of the wastewater treatment facility, paid for by [Meta], others will come without having to figure that out,” Kuna Mayor Joe Stear told Data Center Knowledge. “Obviously, if it exists, the property is more shovel-ready.”

Meta has said the new data center will be powered entirely by renewable energy, a pledge that has become increasingly common from Meta and other hyperscalers like Microsoft and AWS. 

While Idaho already gets more than 75% of its energy from renewable sources, supplying only clean energy to the Kuna facility will require building out additional renewable capacity. 

Meta appears to be taking the same approach it has taken in similar markets, partnering with the local utility to purchase energy from a yet-to-be-built wind farm or solar array in advance, effectively financing its construction. Such a deal appears to be in the works with Idaho Power, although the plan still needs to clear regulatory hurdles. 

Facebook has signed PPAs to fund wind farms in Utah, Iowa and a number of other markets. Hyperscale data centers in general have spurred green energy booms in unlikely places as the major cloud providers look to hit their own sustainability goals and respond to pressure created by their customers’ carbon reduction goals.  

Like other hyperscale data centers throughout the drought-stricken Western U.S., the Idaho project is raising concerns from locals and environmental groups about its water usage. Meta has pledged that the new campus will be a so-called water-neutral facility, promising to fund “water restoration projects” to offset the data center’s consumption. The specifics of what such projects would entail, however, haven't been announced.