The sustainability wave is contagious. Across the U.S., initiatives from local municipalities to divest from high-pollutant traditional energy sources like fossil fuels and allocate spending toward renewable alternatives are reaching a fever pitch, with private industry following closely behind. At the center of it all, you have the usual suspects like New York and California — places with enormous metropolitan centers and a significant need to curb emissions.
However, somewhat surprisingly, quite a few lesser-reported states have begun to turn full-tilt into developing sustainability-based foundations to build well into the future. These decisions are often made as part of a partnership with large corporate employers looking for operational headquarters for reliable access to renewable power sources.
Iowa courted one of these corporate tech giants, landing a deal with Meta centered around Boone County’s upcoming 225-megawatt Great Pathfinder Wind farm. Announced in January, this partnership parallels a similar investment between Apple and North Carolina. In that agreement, the former agreed to set up operations in the state — something that brought a flurry of economic activity along with jobs centered around construction and later high-earning tech positions — knowing there was a renewable supply sufficient enough for Apple’s energy needs.
This case involving Meta is no different. Through the agreement, Meta is working with Apex Clean Energy to develop Great Pathfinder Wind as soon as possible, with the facility set to be operational before the end of this year. The farm will power many Meta operations in the Midwest, including a data center campus in Altoona.
The economic impact will be significant. Nearly 300 full-time construction jobs were made available to Iowa residents, with another nine long-term Meta positions coming in local operations once the facility is operational.
An estimated $74 million in payments will go to Boone and Hamilton County landowners, money that will assuredly enter the local economy. Also, as much as $32 million in direct tax revenue will come from the collaboration.
When announced, sources from both Apex and Meta expressed excitement about the project and hope for the future of Iowa. “Leveraging Iowa’s tremendous wind resources will accelerate the deployment of clean energy, create local jobs, and generate significant local and state economic investment — a trifecta of benefits only possible through trusted collaboration,” says Mark Goodwin, president and CEO of Apex Clean Energy.
Urvi Parekh, Meta renewable energy director, echoed a similar optimism. “Iowa’s ability to host high-quality wind projects while providing a welcoming business environment has made it a great home for our data center, and we hope this investment demonstrates our continued commitment to the state and the local community.”