LOS LUNAS — Greater Kudu, LLC., a subsidiary of Facebook, and the village of Los Lunas will be moving forward with a second set of industrial revenue bonds despite a large group of protestors who opposed the proposal.
On Thursday, March 11, the Los Lunas Village Council unanimously approved a little more than $40 billion in IRBs to Greater Kudu, LLC to help with the cost of a second series of six buildings at the Facebook Data Center in Los Lunas. The Valencia County News-Bulletin previously reported the bonds totaled $6.6 billion but that is just for one set and not the entirety of the series.
The vote comes after the council approved its intent to induce the IRBs, which began talks between the two entities to figure out logistics.
IRBs work as a tax break for large companies such as Facebook to help with construction and expansion of a project. For Greater Kudu, LLC, the village intends to do a “payment in lieu of taxes.”
The number attached to IRBs represents what the company intends to spend on the project in total, not what the village is giving in tax breaks.
The first round of IRBs, which were used to create the data center in 2016, were about $30 billion, according to a previous News-Bulletin article.
The new series of IRBs will bring more jobs to Los Lunas in construction and elsewhere. According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the new series of IRBs will bring hundreds of construction jobs and up to 30 full-time positions.
For the new series of IRBs, up to six buildings can be built. Jill Sweeney, the village’s bond attorney, said two building will have an equipment and construction cost that will exceed $800 million.
Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego previously told the News-Bulletin economic development played a big factor in discussing a new round of IRBs.
Those who opposed the new series of IRBs were water rights activists from many different groups led by Valencia Water Watchers organizers. Their concern is with the amount of water Facebook intends to use, how the IRBs will affect residents economically and how the village didn’t involve community input from the start.
“My concern isn’t with Facebook per se, or their water use,” said Amber Jeansonne, a member of the Valencia Water Watchers. “My concern is with the village council making promises on our water with limited community input. You approved a water bottling company to remove water and sell it, and I don’t have a vote of confidence that you’re doing what’s best for the community.”
Sweeney said the current water agreement between the village and Greater Kudu, LLC hasn’t changed. Even with the new series of bonds, the agreement will remain intact.
According to Sweeney, the data center has access up to 500 acre feet of water under the current agreement. In a single day, the company has access to up to 1.5 million gallons of water but uses around 150,000 gallons of water, Sweeney said.
“The Greater Kudu, LLC data center uses 80 percent less water than the average data center, and restores more water annually in the Rio Grande watershed than it consumes,” she said.
Others, however, showed their support for the village council to approve the IRBs.
Ryan Centerwall, CEO of Affordable Solar, said Facebook has given his company a lot of business.
“We experienced over $100 million in economic activity and over 230 temporary and 20 permanent jobs created due to the first phase of the … data center,” Centerwall said.
The data center acts as storage for Facebook’s social media sites, such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.
Currently, four buildings have been completed at the Los Lunas site, and the fifth and sixth buildings, which fall under the first series of IRBs, are under construction, according to a Facebook spokeswoman.