Fortis Construction has been awarded the contract to build Facebook’s massive data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico.

The contractor hopes to hire and source materials locally, with plans to break ground this October and complete the facility by October 2018.

A rendering of the Los Lunas data center
A rendering of the Los Lunas data center – Facebook

It is coming

Fortis will handle construction of the campus, which starts with a $250 million investment from Facebook for a single site, with plans for a possible five more buildings. 

Californian Cupertino Electric has been chosen as the electrical contractor, while Portland-based TCM will deliver mechanical components.

“When looking at the other data centers we’ve built, over the long term we typically invest hundreds of millions of dollars in each project, which in turn supports thousands of construction jobs and dozens of long-term operational jobs. We source labor and materials locally where we can, and we find ways to invest directly in the community,” Facebook said in a Facebook post.

The company also addressed concerns raised by locals over the area being a “prime nesting land for burrowing owls.”

Facebook said: “We conduct biological surveys as a part of all of our site diligence efforts to identify any protected species or habitat that could be present. At this site, we noted the site had a potentially suitable habitat for several species of birds, including burrowing owl.

“To minimize impacts, construction activities are scheduled to start outside of the nesting season and appropriate buffers will be established around sensitive wildlife, if necessary. Specifically for burrowing owl, we are in the process of resurveying the site to verify the presence of owls and/or suitable burrows and will conduct passive relocation in accordance with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish guidelines, if necessary.”

Los Lunas was chosen as the location for the data center last week, folowing a protracted bidding war between the states of Utah and New Mexico. The stand-off ended with NM not collecting any property taxes for the next 30 years, as well as giving tax breaks on the purchase of computer equipment.

To get the tax break, Facebook will pay an annual fee that starts at $50,000 and rises to almost $500,000.