rPlus Energies, a Utah-based power plant developer, recently broke ground on Graphite Solar I, a 104 MWdc/80 MWac utility-scale solar project owned by Greenbacker Renewable Energy in Carbon County, Utah. The project will be one of the largest solar plants in Greenbacker’s nationwide portfolio of renewable energy projects and will contribute renewable power to Facebook’s new data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
The Graphite Solar project has a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) in place with the investment-grade utility PacifiCorp on behalf of Facebook. The contract was developed under Rocky Mountain Power’s Schedule 34 green energy tariff, which allows large customers to purchase renewable energy generated on their behalf.
The project supports Facebook’s goal of 100% renewable energy for its operations and is expected to reach commercial operations in the Q4 2021.
“Large projects like Graphite will increasingly be necessary to meet the electricity needs of the technology economy and provide carbon-neutral alternatives to traditional power sources,” said Charles Wheeler, CEO of Greenbacker. “We’re thrilled to play a role in the ongoing positive impact that this sustainable infrastructure project will have on boosting local employment, supporting regional economies, and creating more reliable power grids.”
Graphite is being built in Wellington, Utah, a town with several coal mines and a recently retired coal plant with a long history of generating power for the area. With the construction of this solar facility, the community diversifies its contributions to the local energy infrastructure.
The rPlus Energies team was joined for the groundbreaking by Greenbacker and by Sundt Construction, which will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) lead for the project and will include the installation of more than a quarter-million solar panels.
“rPlus Energies is proud to work with Carbon County, as it continues its legacy in energy development — with Graphite Solar capturing the benefits of solar power in the region for years to come,” said Luigi Resta, CEO, rPlus Energies. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Carbon County community through project construction, with a focus on energizing the economy and local hiring.”
“It has been great to see the Graphite Solar project bringing the community together,” said Tony Martines, Carbon County commissioner, during the groundbreaking ceremony. “With several local companies playing a large part in this endeavor, the project has provided new job opportunities and allowed our community to see energy in a new light.”
Greenbacker purchased the pre-operational solar project from rPlus Energies in December 2020 and contracted rPlus to continue to develop the project through construction.