RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Facebook’s wide-spread efforts to expand renewable energy use – including at its big data facility in western North Carolina – draws a lot of praise for jobs and economic development in a new report from Triangle-based RTI International.

RTI, a global research nonprofit organization, acknowledges that Facebook paid for the research.

“Facebook has created a model for clean energy-based development through its investments and partnerships with local stakeholders over the last decade,” said Sara VanLear, project director at RTI who oversaw the project. “The company’s impact can be seen both through the economic results, such as jobs associated to Facebook-supported renewables, and through the change in renewable energy accessibility in regions across the country.”

A representative for Facebook notes the tech giant’s efforts have delivered jobs and power in North Carolina and elsewhere.

“Facebook’s commitment to renewable energy has generated an investment of $3.1 billion across the country, including here in North Carolina, lifting local economies through economic benefits including construction and full-time jobs,” she said. “According to the study, Facebook signed a long-term deal for renewable energy with six solar plants in North Carolina that have employed over 2,269 North Carolinians since 2014 in Bladen, Halifax, Northampton, Warren and Washington Counties.”

RTI noted in its summary of the study what it considered key findings:

  • Facebook’s renewable energy procurement, to date, has resulted in 55 new utility-scale solar and wind projects across 18 states, adding 5,763 megawatts (MW) of clean electricity to the U.S. grid.
  • These renewable energy projects will result in an estimated $3.1 billion to U.S. suppliers in development capital expenditures, generating both short-term economic impacts during construction and installation and ongoing benefits from annual operations and on-site maintenance.
  • During construction (2014–2022), these projects will have supported over 40,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in GDP throughout the U.S. economy.

RTI and Facebook pointed out that Facebook’s” global operations, including its U.S. data center fleet, are supported by 100 percent renewable energy, and Facebook is on track to maintain this commitment for future data center developments and expansions.”

“We are proud that our commitment to renewable energy has brought additional investment and benefits to communities in the U.S. We appreciate the partnership of numerous utilities, developers and community members who are helping us bring nearly six gigawatts of new wind and solar energy to the grid, supporting over 40,000 jobs in the U.S.,” said Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Facebook, in a statement. “It is clear that renewable energy is not only good for the environment, but creates opportunities for businesses, people and communities.”

Read the full report here.